Governor Signs Bill Last Week Dealing With Opioid Prescriptions

It would require health care providers to have discussions with patients before writing an opioid prescription.

 

Annapolis, Md (KM). It’s something doctors and other health care providers don’t often discuss with their patients, but now they’ll be required to do so under a bill signed into law last week by Governor Larry Hogan. It would require physicians, dentists, nurses and other medical professionals who prescribe  opioid pain killers to their patients to discuss with them the  risks of addiction from these drugs. They would also need to offer a non-opioid pain relievers if they’re available.

Frederick County Delegate Karen Lewis Young, who was the sponsor of the bill, said it’s an effort to help combat the opioid epidemic. “We know from research that about 80% of heroin users got started on prescription opioids,” she says. “And we also that those addicted to opioids, the lion’s share, got started with prescription pain killers.”

She says the legislation was “fought heavily” by the Nurses Association, by Med-Chi which represents physicians and by the Dental Association  because they believed it was “too prescriptive.” “And I said I’m not telling you what to say. I’m just telling you have to have the conversations. And they claimed they were already doing it. But I had seen a national study that said ‘no, they’;re not,'” she says.

The study Delegate Young cited was  from  Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy fond that almost half of the time, about 46%. patients say that prescribers don’t ask about past problems with drugs and alcohol before prescribing opioid medications.

She also says more than 200-million prescriptions for opioid based painkillers are written annually in the United States, and Americans take more than 80-percent of the opioid based painkillers in the world.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 2,000 people died for drug overdoses in Maryland in 2017, making it the seventh highest overdose rate in the country. Nationally, according to the CDC, overdoses from prescription painkillers increased by 500% over the past 17 years, resulting in more than 200,000 deaths during that time.

Delegate Young says the bill barely made on the last day of the 2018 Maryland General Assembly. “11:20 {PM, Monday, April 9th}  There were 40-minutes to go. And believe me, I had a lot of help on the Senate side working this bill. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have happened,” she said.

Similar laws are already in effect in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Nevada.

If she’s re-elected this year, Delegate Young says she will putting in more legislation in 2019 to fight the opioid addictions. . “On the top of my priority, I will be looking at other opioid paths to overcome this epidemic,” says Young.

 

By Kevin McManus

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