Schuitmaker bills aimed at combatting opioid epidemic

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker introduced two bills in a four-bill package on Tuesday to implement the recommendations from the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force.

“Across the country, the number of prescription drug overdose deaths has doubled since 1999. Unfortunately, Michigan’s overdose death rate has nearly quadrupled in that time period,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Every community in our state has been affected by opioid addiction and we must do more to end this cycle of addiction and save lives.”

Senate Bills 769 and 770, sponsored by Schuitmaker, would require doctors to check the Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, before prescribing medications to new patients. MAPS is used to identify and prevent drug diversion at all levels, from the prescribing physician, to the pharmacy, and finally to the patient, by collecting prescriptions for schedule two to schedule five controlled substances.

Under SB 770, failure to consult MAPS prior to the prescription being finalized would require the violating physician to complete remedial continuing medical education, or CME.

“MAPS can be an effective tool in our fight against opioid addiction,” Schuitmaker said. “While these drugs play an important role in the care of many patients, medical professionals should be on the lookout for doctor shopping, a practice in which patients may go to several doctors in an effort to get multiple prescriptions.”

SBs 771 and 772, introduced by state Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, would increase penalties for physicians who overprescribe the specified controlled substances. Currently a misdemeanor punishable by two years, this legislation would increase the penalty to a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“This legislation seeks to eliminate any illicit collusion between pharmacies and physicians. Commonly referred to as a ‘pill mill,’ these operations often have an illegitimate doctor- pharmacy relationship with a doctor or clinic prescribing certain narcotics, and a pharmacy dispensing them, both lacking a legitimate medical purpose,” O’Brien said.

SBs 769-772 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Health Policy.