Cracking Down on an Epidemic

All six legislative bodies in the Northwest took action aimed at decreasing opioid addiction and/or overdose deaths this year. Here’s a summary of the laws enacted in each state.

By Sophia Bennett

Washington

63% opioid overdose deaths as a percent of all drug overdose deaths

  • HB 1427 requires medical boards and commissions to adopt new opioid prescribing guidelines by January 1, 2019. A study committee can consult several sources to develop those guidelines, including associations.
  • The state will take steps to make its Prescription Monitoring Program easier to use, and allow doctors and provider groups to use information from that database to compare their prescribing practices to their colleagues’ and educate physicians who may be overprescribing.
  • Regulatory agencies will establish a system for notifying prescribers if one of their patients has experienced a controlled substance overdose.
  • Groups interested in opening opioid addiction treatment programs will face fewer regulatory barriers.

Idaho

41% opioid overdose deaths as a percent of all drug overdose deaths

  • HB 5 requires pharmacists (not just dentists and other prescribers) to register with and use the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program database. Students in health care fields who are also practitioners, or graduates of such programs, can also use the database. The Idaho State Board of Pharmacy must keep opioid prescription records for five years.

Alaska

70% opioid overdose deaths as a percent of all drug overdose deaths

  • HB 159 will limit first-time opioid prescriptions to a seven day supply. Patients can request that pharmacists provide them with fewer pills when they fill their prescriptions.
  • Dentists must complete at least two hours of training in pain management, opioids and addiction before renewing a medical license.
  • The state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database must now be updated daily instead of weekly. Information from that database may be shared with dentists upon occasion to show them how their prescribing practices compare with those of their peers.
  • Individuals can create a voluntary directive that asks doctors not to give them opioids. Parents can request them for their minor children. A directive can be revoked at any time.

Wyoming

48% opioid overdose deaths as a percent of all drug overdose deaths

  • Senate File 42 makes it legal for pharmacists to prescribe opioid antagonists, or prescription medications that are used to treat overdoses, to anyone at risk of an opioid-related drug overdose, or anyone in a position to assist a person experiencing an overdose. Prescribers are required to provide written instructions about how to recognize and aid a person during an overdose.

Oregon

66% opioid overdose deaths as a percent of all drug overdose deaths

  • HB 3440 requires the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to develop a database of opioid addiction treatment programs and share that information online so people can locate programs near them.
  • The bill establishes the Monitoring Program Prescribing Practices Review Subcommittee, which will help the state identity and reach out to doctors who need training on opioid prescribing. It also authorizes OHA to disclose a person’s opioid prescribing practices to a company’s medical or pharmacy director for educational purposes.
  • Specialty criminal courts that deal with non-violent drug offenders cannot prohibit people from using methadone or similar medications as part of a drug treatment program.
  • Health insurance companies cannot require prior authorization of payment during the first 30 days of a drug treatment program.
  • Other provisions include removing barriers to administering and distributing opioid antagonists, and helping hospitals better monitor their prescribing practices.

Montana

35% opioid overdose deaths as a percent of all drug overdose deaths

  • HB 323 allows schools to stock opioid antagonists to use in case of an emergency.

 

Source: http://www.kff.org/state-category/health-status/opioids/