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Opioid bills head to the governor’s desk

The governor has a stack of bills aimed at combating the opioid crisis headed to his desk. Lawmakers in the House and Senate passed bipartisan legislation Wednesday. A major goal is limiting the amount of opioids available to people who don’t need them.

Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren) sponsored a bill in the package. That bill is aimed at curbing “doctor shopping.” It would require patients have a bona-fide relationship with a doctor who prescribes an opiate.

“You’ve got some doctors that are maybe less scrupulous than most doctors are and you start to have a lot of these drugs enter the system,” he said.

Another bill would require that doctors check a special registry to see a patient’s prescription history before prescribing certain drugs.

“It’s very concerning when we have more prescriptions for opioids written than the population of this state,” said bill sponsor Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Otsego). “People are dying every single day from opioid-related deaths.”

But one lawmaker says there could be unintended consequences. Representative LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit) voted against some of the Senate bills. She says there should be exemptions for some medications that fall under the opioid category, but don’t have the effect of opioids.

“We are attempting to solve a problem with one group of people, but we are causing harm to another group,” she said. “In particular, the epileptic patient.”

One bill would limit how much opioids a doctor can prescribe for patients being treated for acute pain. Doctors would not be able to prescribe more than a seven day supply of an opioid within a seven day period.  

Bills from the state House on opioids are also headed to the governor. Those include a bill to let Michigan use Medicaid dollars for opioid abuse treatment. Another would require the Department of Education create state model academic standards for health education that include education on opioid drug abuse.