Some States Limiting Prescribing of Opioids

Some States Limiting Prescribing of Opioids

Some states are limiting how opioids are prescribed, in an effort to reduce the number of deaths from prescription painkillers, The New York Times reports.

These states are frustrated by a lack of action by the federal government.

Last week legislators in Massachusetts passed a measure that would limit opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply after surgery or an injury.

The Massachusetts Medical Society supported the seven-day limit on opioid prescriptions. “Usually we are opposed to carving anything in stone that has to do with medical practice,” said Dr. Dennis Dimitri, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society. “But we are willing to go forward with this limitation because we recognize this is a unique public health crisis.”

Vermont and Maine lawmakers are considering similar measures. Governors are scheduled to meet this summer to develop a plan to reduce the use of opioids painkillers, the article notes. “If we could adopt policies regionally or nationally, we could make some real progress,” said Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin.
He told the newspaper states are acting to reduce opioid prescriptions because drug industry lobbyists can block action at the federal level. “The states are going to lead on this one because Big Pharma has too much power,” Shumlin said.

The American Academy of Pain Management, an organization for medical professionals that receives drug industry funding, estimates that there are currently about 375 measures under consideration in state legislatures that would regulate pain clinics and several aspects of painkiller prescribing.

States are also using prescription drug monitoring programs to curb opioid prescribing. Every state except Missouri has the programs, which are designed to try to stop patients from receiving prescriptions from multiple doctors. In many states, prescribers are not mandated to use the system. States that have made the program mandatory have seen significant decreases in opioid prescribing.

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