A Common Sense Solution: A Conversation Between Patients and Doctors Before An Opioid is Prescribed

Our Priorities: A Prevention First Approach

Reducing Over-Prescribing, Closing Major Avenues of Abuse and Stepping Up Education

Top Priority:

  • Require a conversation between prescribers and patients and in the case of minor patients with their parents about the addictive qualities of opioid-based pain relievers and possible alternative treatments before an opioid is prescribed. This legislation has now been adopted in seven states: New Jersey, Rhode Island, Nevada, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Connecticut as well as one of the recommendations of the President’s National Opioid Commission. (In NJ, RI, MD, NV and OH it applies across the board; MI and CT, target it to youth and their parents.) Our goal is to make it the law in every state. Patients and parents of patients have the right to know this essential and life-saving information.

Priorities

  • Strengthen State Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMP) by adopting the major provisions of New York’s new state law, I-STOP, Internet System for Tracking These include making a patient’s complete controlled substance history available to prescribers and pharmacists; requiring real time input into the data base of all prescriptions when they are dispensed; mandating that prescribers check the database before prescribing a controlled substance: and requiring that all prescriptions be submitted by the physician directly to the pharmacist electronically, eliminating easily forged paper prescriptions, among other provisions.
  • Limit initial opioid based painkiller prescriptions to no more than 5 days.
  • Require as a condition of being allowed to prescribe opioids that all physicians and other prescribers receive as part of their continuing education requirements, training in appropriate and evidence-based prescribing for pain relief.
  • Step up state education efforts through an updated public school curriculum that highlights the dangers of abusing prescription pain-killers and the related problem of heroin addiction as well as stepped up advertising targeted to teenagers and young adults..

Cracking Down on Prescription Drug Diversion for Illegal Uses and Heroin Dealers

  • Establish oversight of medical practice ownership and management by including in licensing and re-licensing requirements that kind of broad disclosure of business relationships and employees that would better identify the illicit participation of organized crime and other criminal elements.
  • Increase penalties and crack down on online pharmacies that often serve as a ready source of opioids without sufficient safeguards.
  • Impose tougher penalties for prescription drug diversion through the improper and sometimes fraudulent prescribing of pain-killers which are then sold for illegal street distribution, including stepping-up enforcement actions, increasing fines and putting in place heavier criminal penalties to enable the deterrent effect of real jail time.
  • Create a statewide opioid task force including state, federal and local law enforcement agencies as well as other agencies involved in enforcing these laws Along with the ability to take coordinated law enforcement action the task force would train health professionals in “state-of-the-art’ methods for detecting prescription drug diversion to illegal uses.
  • Strengthen criminal penalties for heroin dealing and possession with particular attention to lowering the amount and concentration of heroin that need to be in one’s possession for tougher criminal penalties to kick-in (A little bit of heroin apparently goes a long way).
  • Criminalize the manufacture, distribution and use of vehicle traps, which are hidden compartments in motor vehicles designed deliberately as places to stash drugs.
  • Establish strong regulation of pre-paid cell phones, which are used by dealers to prevent an incriminating record of calls from being left.
  • Enable law enforcement to more easily get ‘GPS warrants’ to track dealers who now use rent-a-cars to create ‘chain of custody’ problems when drugs are found in the car they are driving.

Click here to download a PDF of relevant pages of the New Jersey legislation, and the PDF of the comprehensive New Jersey preventing and treating opioid addiction law is here.