Schuitmaker bills crack down on doctor shopping, pill mills

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Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker on Wednesday introduced a legislative package aimed at combating the growing prescription drug and heroin epidemic that affects every community in Michigan.

“Opioid related overdoses are skyrocketing nationwide, and unfortunately, Michigan’s overdose death rate is one of the highest in the nation,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “I have worked tirelessly to address this issue, but as more information becomes available, more work needs to be done.”

Senate Bills 166 and 167 are primarily focused on cracking down on doctors who carelessly prescribe medications and eliminating any illicit collusion between pharmacies and physicians.

These operations, commonly referred to as pill mills, typically have an illegitimate doctor- pharmacy relationship in which a doctor or clinic prescribes certain narcotics, often without a legitimate medical purpose, and a pharmacy dispenses them.

SB 166 seeks to end this practice by requiring that doctors use the Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, and that they check the system before prescribing medications to new patients. MAPS was designed to prevent drug diversion by collecting prescription information for Schedule II through Schedule V controlled substances. Because the prescription history is listed, it is much easier to determine when abuse or doctor shopping is occurring.

“The number of controlled substances prescribed in Michigan has nearly quadrupled over the past eight years,” Schuitmaker said. “Currently, few doctors consult MAPS before prescribing highly addictive substances. These bills ensure that doctors will have all relevant information regarding a patient’s prescription history.”

The package also outlines punishments for physicians who fail to do their due diligence when prescribing medications.

SB 167 would require a violating physician to complete remedial continuing medical education requirements in order to maintain their licensure. Failure to do so could result in license suspension or permanent revocation.

“Too often medical professionals are unaware of the dangers of readily handing out prescriptions such as hydrocodone or oxycodone,” Schuitmaker said. “This is often the first step that can lead to heroin or other illicit drug abuse. Senate Bills 166 and 167 are an important tool for patients and doctors to end this deadly cycle.”

SBs 166 and 167 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Health Policy.

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