Senator stalls DEA nominee over pain medication rules

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Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) has blocked from the full Senate the nomination of Michelle Leonhart as head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Kohl said he still wants the DEA and the U.S. Department of Justice to develop a solution to ensure nursing home residents have access to pain medications when they need them.

Leonhart currently is functioning as the acting head of the DEA.

Kohl said he is devising legislation that would allow nurses to act as agents of doctors to call in controlled substances, including Schedule II drugs, to pharmacies.

Provider groups have been working with Kohl for more than a year to address delays with dispensing of critical pain medications for patients in nursing homes, assisted living communities and hospices.

“Senator Kohl shares our frustration with the outdated rules and regulations that are negatively affecting patient care,” said a spokeswoman for the American Health Care Association, vowing further collaboration.

Larry Minnix, CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, said that nursing home residents suffer needlessly under current painkiller dispensing rules.

“Medication delays can place the residents at risk for re-hospitalization and violate quality of care standards,” Minnix added.