Continuing the fight against prescription drug abuse

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a pair of bills that seek to prevent prescription drug diversion and reduce overdoses in the state of Michigan.

“The Legislature has remained committed to fighting the recent spike in opioid-related deaths head on; however, it is not something that can simply be legislated away,” said state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, who sponsored both bills. “Successfully combating this issue takes time and expertise and relies on diligent participation from everyone involved.”

Schuitmaker, who has remained at the forefront of the legislative effort against opioid abuse, says illegal diversion is the root cause of the epidemic that is currently sweeping the nation.

Senate Bills 166 and 167 would aid the state’s ongoing effort against opioid addiction by attempting to eliminate this diversion at the source.

“We have doctors and pharmacies who are willing to prescribe and fill medications for patients with no medical need and patients actively seeking out these types of doctors to illegally obtain prescription medicine,” Schuitmaker said. “Michigan currently has a system that tracks prescriptions, but many physicians don’t use it properly, or even at all.”

The bills would ensure all prescribers use the Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, which was designed to prevent drug diversion by collecting prescription data and loading it into a database made available to all Michigan prescribers and pharmacies.

Under the bills, all prescribers who prescribe Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances would review a MAPS report prior to issuing a prescription for a controlled substance. The report lists which substances a patient has received and who has prescribed them. A MAPS report could indicate to the physician or health care provider that abuse or doctor shopping may be occurring.

Also included in the bills are guidelines for punishing those who fail to do their due diligence.

“This quick, three-second search allows health care professionals to see the full scope of a patient’s prescription history,” Schuitmaker said. “When something doesn’t look right, there will be a paper trail of information that investigators can follow, and violators will be dealt with accordingly.”

SBs 166 and 167 now advance to the House of Representatives for further consideration.