Senate passes Archambault legislation that requires prescribers to discuss opioid risks
STATE HOUSE — The Senate has passed legislation introduced by Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston) that would require health care professionals to discuss the dangers of opioid addiction before prescribing the medication.
“We’re battling a lethal epidemic that is killing more people a year than motor vehicle crashes,” said Senator Archambault. “More than 52,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2015 — and 63 percent of those deaths involved an opioid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
The legislation (2017-S 0493A) would require that a health care professional authorized to issue prescriptions, prior to issuing an initial prescription for an opioid drug, discuss with the patient who is 18 years of age or older or the patient’s parent or guardian if the patient is under 18, specifically the risks of developing a dependence or addiction on the prescription opioid drug and potential of overdose or death, the adverse risks of concurrent use of alcohol or other psychoactive medications.
Opioids are a class of drugs that act on the nervous system to relieve pain. Long-term use can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when stopped. Opioids are classified as narcotics and include illegal heroin as well as legal prescription pain relievers such as morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and hydromorphone.
“This is a problem that is ruining lives,” said Senator Archambault. “We all know of somebody, a friend or relative who has been affected by this epidemic. And that’s not even counting the expense. The total annual costs to society associated with prescription opioid abuse was estimated at $55 billion in a study published in Pain Medicine in 2011.”
The bill is the latest in a series of measures passed by the General Assembly to fight the opioid crisis. In recent years, naloxone (an overdose reversal drug) has been made more available, even in schools. The state operates a prescription drug monitoring program, an electronic database that tracks prescriptions of controlled substances, including opioids. Laws granting immunity to those who distribute naloxone have also been passed.
“This is a difficult trend to stay on top of,” says Senator Archambault. “But one of the ways we can do it is through education. Much of the opioid crisis starts with prescriptions. If doctors take the time to discuss the very real threat of dependence, it could go a long way toward prevention.”
The measure, which is cosponsored by Senators Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick), James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, North Kingstown, Narragansett), Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) and V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903