KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) – A new Missouri law limits the amount and type of analgesics that dentists can prescribe after studies have shown that painkillers prescribed after routine dental work become one nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction contribute.
Gov. Mike Parson signed the bill this month, saying that dentists should not prescribe opioids more than the equivalent of 10 regular pills per day and no sustained-release opioids like OxyContin.
Dan Kessler, president of Missouri Dental Association, said the trade group worked with lawmakers on the language in the bill.
"I think we're all for restrictions and not on prescribing or not even things like hydrocodone," Kessler told The Kansas City Star. Hydrocodone is a component of analgesics like Vicodin.
Dentists who do not meet the requirements of the new law must document the reason for this in the patient's medical record. The documentation exception is for patients who have established opioid tolerance and need more effective pain relief.
If dentists do not record any prescriptions beyond the limits of the new law, the State Dental Association could investigate and possibly license them, Kessler said.
"I hate to say it's on the honor system, but it's kind of," Kessler said. "But if you're a repeat offender and things happen, the way people annoy you, then you're exposed." A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in December showed that dentists' opiate prescriptions play a significant role in the addiction of adolescents and young adults. More likely than peers, opioid abuse is diagnosed within one year. Adolescents and young adults are more susceptible to addiction problems as their brains are still evolving, and dentists are the most prevalent opioid prescribers to adolescents because most people's wisdom teeth are removed.
Exposure of this group susceptible to abuse, "said John Dane, the dental director of the Department of Health of Missouri.