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Proposed changes being considered to the way doctors prescribe narcotics

The Arkansas State Medical Board is considering changes to the Arkansas Medical Practice Act in an attempt to aid in the battle against the opioid epidemic. (Photo: MGN)

Proposed changes to the way doctors prescribe opioid medications in Arkansas is gaining attention from patients suffering from chronic pain.

The Arkansas State Medical Board is considering an amendment to the Arkansas Medical Practice Act that would add the excessive prescription of narcotics to the list of infractions that could result in the the revocation or suspension of a physician's license.

According to the proposed regulation amendment, doctors would only be able to prescribe opioids at a level less than 50 morphine milligram equivalents per day. The move would be bringing the state in line with Centers for Disease Control guidelines on safe opioid dosing, as well seen as an aid to battling the opioid epidemic.

The proposed rule change had several doctors and chronic pain patients at a public comment session on Thursday, where people like Kirk Maynard from Clinton voiced some concerns.

"My doctor has already reduced my pain medication by over half," claimed Maynard, saying his doctor was concerned about prescribing more after hearing proposed changes could affect his medical license.

There were similar concerns shared by Kelly Cole from Malvern, who walked to speak to the board with a walker and neck brace.

"Because of my condition and disease, I feel like I'm guilty but I'm innocent," said Cole.

But Kevin O'Dwyer, legal counsel for the state medical board was quick to correct those concerns, saying with the amendment goes into great detail that with proper documentation there are exceptions to the the proposed rule change.

There are 12 different items that need to be documented, according to the proposed amendment to Regulation 2.4. That had some doctors concerned, primarily with the stipulation that a pain management specialist be consulted on "excessive" prescriptions, given that there are a limited number of pain management specialists in Arkansas.

The state medical board will have another public comment session at their April 5th meeting in Little Rock.

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