Four bills originated in substance abuse committee
The House subject matter committee, Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse, heard presentations and passed four originating bills during a lengthy meeting on Thursday. Delegate Rohrbach, a physician, chairs the committee. Michael Goff, Director of the Board of Pharmacy and Controlled Substance Monitoring Database, presented information about recent trends. He noted that hydrocodone and related drugs have significantly decreased from about 100 million prescribed to 30 million over the past 7 years. Prescriptions for treatment drugs such as Suboxone & related drugs have increased. The advisory board consisting of physicians, law enforcement, and others has made several recommendations to the Legislature that have been adopted over its five years of existence. “Doctor-shopping” has become almost non-existent due to monitoring and legislation. Overdose deaths are also tracked and they have found that deaths from prescription drugs are decreasing but being replaced by deaths due to illegal drugs.
Dr. Richard Vaglienti and Brian Gallagher reported on the status of the Chronic Pain Coalition, which was created two years ago and engages the medical, legal, and law enforcement community. Dr. Vaglienti stated that use of opioids is decreasing but there is concern about patients in chronic pain being “left out in the cold” due to providers’ fear of legal repercussion. “The regulations have interfered with the patient/practitioner relationship,” stated Vaglienti. He recommended that the committee and the Coalition review practices in other states regarding patients in chronic pain.
All four bills originating from the committee passed. They propose the following:
· Extending medical coverage for mothers to one year postpartum (will go to Finance)
· Requiring drug settlement funds obtained by the Attorney General to be placed in the Ryan Brown Fund (will go to Finance)
· Permitting professional boards to approve different continuing education programs on drug diversion
· Requiring a pharmacist to check the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database prior to dispensing certain drugs
In other business, the committee will receive the Governor’s Substance Use Plan in electronic form on Monday and it will be discussed in the committee two weeks from today. Next week, the committee will take up vaping and tobacco issues.