Committee approves Schuitmaker doctor shopping bills

LANSING, Mich. — A Senate committee on Tuesday advanced a pair of bills that would further the state’s efforts against the growing prescription drug and heroin epidemic in Michigan.

“Nearly 2,000 Michiganders died from drug abuse in 2015, and those numbers have unfortunately continued to increase into 2017,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, who has been the lead in the Senate on several opioid-related issues.

Schuitmaker points to both “doctor shopping” and “pill mills” as the main contributors to the growing public health crisis.

Doctor shopping is a process in which patients seek out doctors who will write fraudulent prescriptions, while pill mills refer to collusive operations between such doctors and pharmacies that will ultimately fill the unwarranted prescriptions.

Schuitmaker introduced Senate Bills 166 and 167 to hinder this process and crack down on any illicit collusion between pharmacies and physicians.

“When you have doctors and pharmacies who are willing to prescribe and fill medications to patients with no medical need and patients actively seeking out these types of actors, it is a recipe for disaster,” she said. “These bills would make sure doctors who prescribe Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances consult MAPS prior to doing so and outline punishments for those who fail to do their due diligence.”

The Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, was designed to prevent drug diversion by collecting prescription data and loading it into a database made available to all Michigan prescribers. This allows health care professionals to see a full picture of the controlled substances that a patient has received and from which prescriber. A MAPS report could indicate to the physician or health care provider that abuse or doctor shopping may be occurring.

“The number of controlled substances prescribed in Michigan has nearly quadrupled over the past eight years,” Schuitmaker said. “These bills ensure that doctors will have all relevant information regarding a patient’s prescription history and are an important tool to end this deadly cycle.”

SBs 166 and 167 received approval from the Senate Committee on Health Policy Tuesday afternoon and will now go before the full Senate for a vote.