Senate committee approves bill to reduce opioid deaths

By Claire Castillo

INDIANAPOLIS – A Senate committee unanimously approved legislation that would require doctors to use INSPECT, the state’s prescription-monitoring website, before prescribing opioids to a patient.

“Senate Bill 221 is part of our ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic at its source,” said Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, author of the bill. “We’re losing an entire generation of Hoosiers to this crisis.”

The INSPECT program is a clearinghouse of information maintained that health care professionals can access so they know what controlled substances, such as opioids, patients have been prescribed.

Houchin said when she was drafting the bill a year ago she discovered that only 14 percent of licensed doctors who were able to write prescriptions for opiates were registered with INSPECT.

That number is now more than 40 percent. The goal is to have 100 percent of opioid prescriptions registered with INSPECT, which will be phased in over a three-year period beginning when it takes effect July 1.

In separate action, the committee approved a bill by an 11-0 vote to require county coroners to follow new procedures in dealing with drug overdose deaths.

Senate Bill 139, authored by Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, would have coroners:

  • Check the INSPECT database for information about the person;
  • Test the deceased person’s bodily fluids;
  • And report results to the Indiana State Department of Health.

“This is a key piece in the next step to kill heroin in five years in our state,” Merritt said. “We need to understand what is killing Hoosiers in this epidemic.”

Claire Castillo is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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