Kohl threatens to hold up DEA nominee over nursing home drug-dispensing issue

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Aging Committee chief hears complaints about nursing homes
Aging Committee chief hears complaints about nursing homes

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) continues to express his reservations about Michelle Leonhart, the nominee to lead the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Leonhart on Wednesday, Kohl said he still has concerns about the DEA's policy regarding the delivery of pain medications in nursing homes.

“I will not hold her nomination in the Committee today, but I do intend to hold her nomination on the Senate floor until we have made more progress towards our goal of ensuring that nursing home residents get timely access to the prescription drug care they need,” Kohl told the committee.

The DEA declined to comment when contacted by McKnight's on Wednesday. In October, under pressure from the Senate, the agency released new guidelines allowing nurses to be agents of physicians to call in painkiller prescriptions orally to pharmacies. But this change doesn't go far enough for some committee members, as nurses are still restricted in calling in orders for other important pain-relieving drugs, such as morphine. Kohl is working on legislation that would allow nurses—acting as agents to doctors—to call in controlled substances such as Schedule II drugs to pharmacies. The Senate committee also conducted an investigation that found much confusion still exists among nurses as to what new protocols allow.

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