Senate Aging Committee probes easing of restrictive drug laws in nursing homes

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Sen. Herb Kohl, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, at a hearing Wednesday questioned why the Drug Enforcement Agency has not yet lifted certain restrictions regarding controlled substances in nursing homes.

The committee chairman pointed out that it wasn't until the day before the hearing that the DEA began soliciting the public's feedback on revising the regulations. Kohl asked Joseph Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator, Office of Diversion Control with the DEA, how long this process would take.

The DEA has recommended that nursing homes obtain “state controlled substance registration authority, and at that point in time, the DEA would look to authorize them with the controlled substance registration,” Rannazzisi said.

Currently, the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy is working with other states through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to create regulations for all states. Once the DEA receives those regulations from Ohio and the other states, it will “move forward as quickly as possible,” Rannazzisi said.

Clearly irked by the deflective answer, but looking to move on, Kohl told the DEA representative, “If it's alright with you, we'll be in contact with you on a regular basis to see how we're doing.” The senator plans to check in weekly in hopes of speeding up the process, Aging Committee Press Secretary Ashley Glacel told McKnight's.

Another panelist was Mary Hendrickson, director of Quality and Regulatory Affairs at Genco Pharmaceutical Services. The hearing focused on the impact of improperly disposed medication on the environment.

To see the hearing, go to http://aging.senate.gov/hearing_detail.cfm?id=326079&. The exchange with Rannazzisi is at minute 69.