Maryland lawmakers tackle opioid legislation

Prevent Opioid Abuse Applauds Introduction of Legislation Giving Patients and Parents the Information They Need to Prevent Opioid Addiction


For Immediate Release:

Rob Horowitz,
401-595- 5026

Prevent Opioid Abuse Applauds Introduction of Legislation Giving Patients and Parents the Information They Need to Prevent Opioid Addiction

Calls on Maryland General Assembly to Pass SB 522/HB 653

Annapolis, MD – Prevent Opioid Abuse, a national organization working to educate patients and
parents about the risks of opioid-based painkillers and the availability of non-opioid alternatives,
applauded today’s introduction of SB 522.

Sponsored by Senator Katherine Klausmeier (D-8), the legislation would require prescribers to
inform patients, and parents of minor children, about the risk of addiction before an opioid is
prescribed and when appropriate, discuss the availability of non-opioid alternative pain relief
treatments. This common-sense requirement enables patients and parents to recognize signs of
addiction and alerts them to less risky alternative methods of pain relief.

“Requiring a conversation between doctors and patients and parents before an opioid is
prescribed is a simple, but extremely effective measure that will result in saving lives,” said
Prevent Opioid Abuse Founder Elaine Pozycki.

The over-prescribing of opioid-based pain relievers, such as Oxycodone and Vicodin, is the
primary cause of today’s epidemic of opioid addiction, both to opioid-based painkillers and their
illegal street cousin, heroin.  More than 200 million prescriptions for opioid-based painkillers are
written annually in the United States, and Americans take more than 80 percent of the opioid-
based painkillers used globally, despite representing just 5 percent of the world’s population.

The results of this overprescribing can be seen right here in Maryland. According to the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, more than 2,000 people died from drug overdoses in
Maryland in 2017, making it the state with the 7 th highest overdose rate in the nation. Nationally,
overdoses of prescription painkillers alone have increased by 500% over the past 17 years,
resulting in more than 200,000 deaths in that time period, the CDC reports.

“All Maryland patients and parents of patients have the right to know that the medicine they are
being prescribed can lead to dependency and addiction. They should also be made aware that
there are opioid-free alternatives that are available in many situations,” Sen. Klausmeier said.
“My legislation ensures that this life-saving information is provided at the time it matters most
— when an opioid-pain reliever is about to be prescribed. To ensure this essential conversation
between patient and prescriber occurs, I will work for this bill’s speedy passage into law.”
SB 522 is based on similar laws that have been adopted by New Jersey, Rhode Island and
Nevada. The National Opioid Commission has made the proposed requirement for a
conversation between prescriber and patient before an opioid is prescribed one of its major
national recommendations.

SB 522 will be heard by the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee
tomorrow, February 15 at 1:00 PM ET. Its co-sponsors, include Senators DeGrange, Middleton,
Simonaire, Smith, Young, and Zucker.  A companion bill, HB 653, sponsored by Delegate Karen
Young (D-3A) has been introduced and will be heard by the Health & Government Operations
Committee on Feb. 21.

“Unfortunately, doctors rarely discuss the addiction potential of opioids before prescribing
them,” said Andrew Kolodny, MD, Co-Founder of Physicians for Responsible Prescribing and a
Senior Adviser to Prevent Opioid Abuse. “Requiring this conversation will not only result in
better informed parents, patients and prescribers, it will save lives and spare many families from
the devastating impact of opioid addiction.”

Nevada Passes Conversation Requirement as Part of Comprehensive Controlled Substance Legislation

Governor Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services today announced an important reminder that the provisions of Assembly Bill 474, the Controlled Substance Abuse Prevention Act, will go into effect January 1, 2018. This measure was introduced by the Governor during his 2017 State of the State address, unanimously passed through both houses of the Legislature, and was signed into law on June 16, 2017.

Read complete article here.

Read Governor Sandoval’s letter to Elaine Pozycki

U.S. Drug Overdoses Soar Past 60,000

From Get Smart About Drugs:

In 2016, there were more than 63,000 deadly drug overdoses in the nation, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control.

The staggering overdose rate is three times the rate of overdose deaths in 1999.

Read full article here.Read full article here.

Michigan Adopts Right to Know Law for Youth and their Parents–becoming 5th State to Pass a Conversation Requirement

From the December 27 Detroit News:

“Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed a 10-bill package Wednesday aimed at reducing Michigan’s rapidly growing opioid addiction by requiring doctors and the state to better track and control the flow of opioid-based prescription drugs.

Calley signed six bills that will collectively require doctors to use a new online prescription tracking state database, set up a legitimate doctor-patient relationship and limit the number of pills dispensed in a given seven-day period. It comes as the number of heroin and prescription opioid overdose deaths in Michigan has doubled during the past five years.”

Responsible Prescribing is the Key to Curbing Opioid Epidemic

From Thrive Global.

Opioid overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States
by Andrew Kolodny, MD

Twenty years ago, opioid overdose deaths in the United States were rare. Today, they are the leading cause of accidental death, surpassing motor vehicle crashes. In 2016, more than 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, a figure that exceeds in one year the total number of Americans killed during the entire Vietnam war.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been clear for several years about the cause of our nation’s opioid addiction epidemic. It has shown that a sharp increase in opioid overdose deaths and addiction paralleled an increase in opioid prescribing. In other words, the CDC is saying the opioid crisis was caused by overprescribing of opioids. The medical community did not start prescribing opioids more aggressively out of malicious intent. For most of us, it was a desire to treat pain more compassionately that led to overprescribing. To bring this public health crisis under control, doctors must prescribe more cautiously.

Read complete article here.

Final Report of National Opioid Commission Recommends National Implementation of Prescriber/Patient Conversations Before an Opioid is Prescribed.

Parents have right to know risks of addictive pain killers

Guest Editorial by Elaine Pozycki. From the Herald News, Fall River:

Like so many moms across this country, my son became addicted to opioid pain relievers after they were prescribed to him to treat a sports injury. Had I just been told about the addictive qualities of the medicine Steven was prescribed, I would have known to look for alternatives. I would have known to look for signs of dependency earlier.

Read the complete article here.

Children of the Opioid Epidemic Are Flooding Foster Homes. America Is Turning a Blind Eye.


Long before the social workers showed up in his living room this March, Matt McLaughlin, a 16-year-old with diabetes, had taken to a wearying evening routine: trying to scrounge up enough spare change for food while his mom, Kelly, went to a neighbor’s house to use heroin. On a good night, the bookish high school junior would walk through his neighborhood in Andover, Ohio, a Rust Belt town surrounded by fields and trailer parks, to pick up frozen pizza from the Family Dollar. On a bad night, he’d play video games to distract himself from his grumbling stomach and dipping blood sugar, and wait for Kelly to return with glazed eyes.

Read the complete article.

America’s opioid epidemic is so bad it’s causing average life expectancy to drop

by German Lopez @germanrlopez Sep 20, 2017, 12:00pm EDT

A new study looks at the numbers — and they’re fairly grim.

The typical American was expected to die a little earlier in 2015 than 2014 — and a dramatic rise in drug overdose deaths is largely to blame, according to a new study in JAMA.

The study examined changes in life expectancy between 2000 and 2015. It found that, overall, life expectancy at birth increased by about two years in that time span.

Read entire article.