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6/23/2018 General Assembly approves bills empowering patients to curb possibility of opioid addiction
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed two pieces of legislation introduced by Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) and Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) that would empower patients to curb the possibility of opiate addiction. Both bills now head to the governor’s office.

The first bill (2018-H 7416, 2018-S 2541) would give patients the option of only partially filling their prescription for painkillers. It would allow a pharmacist to dispense a partial fill of a Schedule II controlled substance at the request of either the patient or the prescriber.

“The opioid epidemic is one of the biggest tragedies of our time, and finding new ways to tackle it continues to be a challenge,” said Speaker Mattiello. “This legislation will allow and encourage prescribers, patients and pharmacists to work together, and empower patients to limit the number of unused pills that are left in their medicine chests, which is where opioid addiction begins.”

Under the provisions of the legislation, subsequent fills would have to be dispensed at the same pharmacy where the original prescription was partially filled, and the total quantity dispensed could not exceed the total quantity prescribed. After 30 days, the prescription would expire.

The second bill (2018-H 7496A, 2018-S 2539) would establish a procedure for individuals to file a revocable voluntary non-opiate directive form with the patient’s licensed health care practitioner. The form would indicate to all practitioners that the patient would not be administered or offered a prescription or medication order for an opiate.

“We have to take a multi-pronged approach to limit the quantity of opioids that are on the market,” said Senator Miller, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. “The problem with opioids is that they hang out in a lot of people’s medicine cabinets, so it will take a combination of efforts, such as these two bills to rein in what has become a serious problem.”

The Centers for Disease Control published guidelines for the prescribing of opioids for chronic pain. Among the agency’s recommendations are limiting the dosage and coming up with a plan to mitigate the risk of addiction. While the CDC’s guidelines are a set of voluntary recommendations aimed at health providers, some states have begun to explore how to combat the crisis through legislation. Last year, Massachusetts passed comprehensive legislation based on the guidelines, including the creation of a non-opiate directive form.

“This is a crisis that is tearing apart families and communities, and the next step must be strengthening our prescription laws,” said Speaker Mattiello. “These bills will attack the epidemic right where it starts by putting a speed bump in the prescription procedure, forcing all parties to slow things down and take a closer look at the danger of opiates.”

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903