Senate bills would help curb opioid abuse epidemic

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LANSING, Mich. — Legislation introduced in the state Senate on Thursday would help further combat the rising opioid abuse epidemic in Michigan.

Sen. Marty Knollenberg was joined by Sen. Mike Shirkey and Sen. Rick Jones in introducing a package of bills that will outline the next steps the state will take against this growing issue.

“My colleagues and I have sponsored legislation that makes naloxone legal for emergency responders and family members to possess, we’ve made updates to the Michigan Automated Prescription System, which tracks prescriptions of Schedule II through Schedule V substances, and we’re working on reforms that require doctors and pharmacies to use this program,” said Knollenberg, R-Troy. “But we’re not done yet and we’re still looking at additional methods we can pursue to end the drug problem in our communities.”

Senate Bill 272 would require physicians to educate patients and have them sign a form developed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that indicates they understand the dangers of opioids, they have been given proper medication disposal instructions, and they understand it is against Michigan law for their pills to get in the hands of someone else.

SB 273 compliments the language of SB 272 by also requiring physicians who treat a patient for an opioid-related overdose to provide information to the patient regarding substance abuse treatments.

“We’ve used the criminal justice system as an approach to this for years and it simply doesn’t work,” said Knollenberg. “We need to take a more medically based approach and ensure that patients are educated about the dangers of these medicines before taking them, and in the unfortunate event of an overdose, we need to point that individual in the direction of meaningful, effective help.”

The last bill in the package, SB 274, which Knollenberg sponsored, is primarily aimed at reducing the number of unused opioids in medicine cabinets and on the streets. The bill would limit the number of opioids a physician could prescribe to less than 100 morphine milligram equivalents per day.

“Aside from educating children, and even adults, I think proper disposal is absolutely paramount in fighting this,” Knollenberg said. “People oftentimes don’t even remember how many pills are in the bottle when they stopped taking them. This unchecked access is what really gave this epidemic its momentum.”

All three bills have been referred to the Senate Committee on Health Policy.

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