PROOS: New laws to help address opioid epidemic

Published 6:27 am Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The growing abuse of prescription drugs and heroin is now the deadliest drug epidemic in American history.

We have seen the terrible impacts in our local communities and throughout the state, where it is killing thousands of Michigan residents every year. Thankfully, legislation has been signed that will help combat the state’s rising opioid addiction problem, protect our communities, save lives and ensure that patients in severe pain have access to necessary medications.

A key part of this battle is teaching our children about the dangers of prescription painkillers and the risks of addiction.

Included in Public Acts 246-255 of 2017 are House Bills 4406-4407, sponsored by Rep. Beth Griffin, R-Mattawan. The new laws require the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission to develop recommendations for student curricula addressing the risks associated with prescription drug abuse and require the Michigan Department of Education to develop a model program of instruction on prescription drug abuse that is grade- and age-appropriate based on the commission’s recommendations.

We must ensure that children understand that there is no such thing as harmless sharing of prescription drugs. I want to thank Rep. Griffin for her leadership in protecting our next generation from opioid addiction through increased education.

We also must address the oversupply of these medications.

The new laws require increased use by prescribers and dispensers of the Michigan Automated Prescription System that tracks patients and prescribers for over-supply of Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances. The reforms also require doctors who prescribe such drugs to have a bona fide prescriber-patient relationship with the patient before prescribing the controlled substances.

These reforms are a comprehensive effort to stop abusers from taking advantage of the system to get excessive amounts of dangerously addictive drugs, while maintaining access to pain medications for patients who truly need them.

Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents southwest Michigan.