LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday approved additional measures that would help aid the state’s ongoing effort against the rising opioid abuse epidemic.
“Michigan is making strides against this crisis and is continuing to fight this head on,” said Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy. “Our state is among the hardest-hit in the nation and too many families have lost loved ones. We have been fighting this since day one, but it’s time to kick it into high gear.”
The Senate has been the home of numerous measures against opioid abuse in recent years, but with the help of Gov. Rick Snyder’s Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Taskforce, the Legislature has ramped up those efforts in recent months.
Senate Bill 274, which Knollenberg sponsored, seeks to reduce the number of opioids in circulation by limiting prescriptions for acute pain to seven days. Acute pain typically applies to minor injuries that require short-term prescriptions — such as a sprained ankle or having wisdom teeth removed.
Most physicians consider seven days to be enough time to manage pain while the body naturally heals, and they agree that prescriptions that go beyond seven days can lead to addiction if not carefully monitored.
“I think when pain becomes manageable, people toss the half-full bottle of pills back into the cabinet without knowing how many pills are in it and it sits there unmonitored,” Knollenberg said. “It is this unchecked access that has allowed legally prescribed medications to get into the hands of someone else, and ultimately end up on the streets.”
Also included in the multi-bill package were updates to Michigan’s reporting requirements for certain controlled substances and substance abuse care.
SB 47 would remove existing reporting exemptions and require more reporting of controlled substances to the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS), which is the prescription monitoring program for the state. MAPS was designed to prevent drug diversion by collecting prescription data for Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances and loading it into a database made available to all Michigan prescribers and pharmacies. Two drugs that would be reported under the bill are methadone and buprenorphine.
These bills seek to eliminate any collusion between patients, doctors and pharmacies — specifically a process known as “doctor shopping.” Doctor shopping refers to a patient’s search for a doctor who will illegally fill their prescription knowing that the patient has no legitimate medical need. The bills also outline punishment guidelines for violations.
Additionally, SB 270 would require that a physician also have a bona fide physician-patient relationship before prescribing such substances.
“These bills are just the beginning of our effort to keep prescription drugs out of the hands of people who don’t truly need them,” Knollenberg said. “A quick, three-second search allows health care professionals to see the full scope of a patient’s prescription history, and if something doesn’t look right, the system will provide a paper trail of information that investigators can follow.”
Lastly, SB 273 aids those who have already suffered from addiction by requiring any health care professional who treats a patient for an opioid-related overdose to provide information to the patient regarding substance abuse treatments.
Knollenberg said he hopes to see the bills receive final approval from Gov. Snyder in the coming weeks.
“This is good public policy that has received bipartisan support since day one,” he said. “It is my hope that these bills are signed as quickly as possible because timely implementation will certainly save lives.”