In recent years, numerous state agencies and private stakeholders have partnered with the common goal of saving lives. When the governor formed the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Taskforce, I gladly accepted a position, and I pledged my efforts to help combat the epidemic that has devastated communities and families across our state and nation.
In late December, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed into law a bipartisan effort aimed at curbing prescription drug addiction and overdoses. The legislation covers many different aspects of the surging epidemic and seeks to fight it from every possible angle. The laws were signed on Dec. 27, 2017 and take effect tomorrow, June 1.
I have always felt that illegal diversion is the root cause of the current epidemic.
As a result, I sponsored Senate Bills 166 and 167, now Public Acts 248 and 249 of 2017, to require all Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substance prescriptions to be reviewed by the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) prior to being prescribed.
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. This will help put an end to pill mills and other illegal operations by creating a paper trail for such prescriptions. A quick, three-second search gives health care professionals a complete outline of a patient’s prescription history, allowing them to see if something doesn’t look right.
The new laws will ensure prescribers use the existing system and thoroughly examine a patient’s medical need for such medications. They also include guidelines for punishing those who fail to do their due diligence.
The package included several other new laws as well. Also included are measures that address the oversupply of these medications and how to properly dispose of expired, unwanted or unused prescriptions and limit prescriptions for acute pain — for example, having wisdom teeth removed — to seven days.
The reforms also require that patients receiving a prescription for opioids are informed of the effects and possible side effects of the drug, require the consent of parents before minors are prescribed addictive opioids, and require doctors to provide treatment service information to patients who have suffered an overdose.
These efforts have been in the works for years. My colleagues in the Legislature and the executive office have worked with health care providers, law enforcement, parents who have lost children from an overdose and numerous other stakeholders to ensure we are approaching this matter head on.