For Immediate Release:
Prevent Opioid Abuse Calls on House of Delegates to Pass HB 653 Arming Patients and Parents with the Information Needed to Prevent Opioid Addiction
Say ‘Patients and Parents Have the Right to Know’
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, urged speedy adoption of HB 653. The legislation is being heard in the Health & Government Operations Committee today.
Sponsored by Delegate Karen Lewis Young, (D-3A), 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.
Prevent Opioid Abuse Founder Elaine Pozycki said, “This common-sense requirement enables patients and parents to recognize signs of addiction and alerts them to less risky alternative methods of pain relief. People have the right to know this lifesaving information in real time. I urge its speedy passage.”
“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.”
“Prescribers are the gatekeepers in promoting responsible use. Therefore, it is critical that they play a role in minimizing the rate of addiction,” said, Delegate Lewis Young. “Approximately 85% of those who have an opioid addiction were originally introduced through a medical prescription.”.
Lewis Young added, “Research has demonstrated that better information can be effective in ensuring that patients understand the risks associated with opioid medications and improving communication between providers and their patients. That is what my legislation will promote.”
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 7th 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.
HB 653 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.
The legislation’s co-sponsors, include Delegates Angel, Barron, Cullison, Fraser–Hidalgo, Gibson, Kelly, Lafferty, Mautz, McMillan, Metzgar, Morales, Platt, Robinson, Sample–Hughes, Tarlau, Turner, and Vogt. A companion bill, SB 522 ,was heard by the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee last week.