House passes bills seeking to increase fight against opioids

The Washington House passed measures Friday that require drug manufacturers and doctors to do more to fight opioid abuse, part of an effort to save the lives of hundreds of state residents who die as result of overdose every year.

House Bill 1047 was passed by an 86-12 vote, while House Bill 2489 received unanimous approval. Both measures now move to the Senate for consideration.

The first bill requires:

pharmaceutical companies to pay for the disposal of unwanted medication by consumers.

The latter bill requires doctors to obtain additional training before they can prescribe opioids and hold in-person discussions about risks and alternatives with patients receiving the treatment for the first time.

It also authorizes pharmacists to partially fill prescriptions and connects counselors with those who have had non-fatal overdoses.

Almost 1,100 Washington residents died in 2015 from drug poisoning

a 12 percent increase from a year-earlier, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data . That’s more than the number of deaths due to firearms and homicide combined. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee proposed last month allocating $20 million to treatment and prevention programs to fight opioid addiction. The House and Senate are set to unveil their budget proposals in coming months.

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“This bill will help save lives, and give doctors, law enforcement and first responders more tools to fight this crisis,” Inslee said in a statement after approval of House Bill 2489. “It will provide help for people who need treatment, and offer wrap around services like housing and employment supports they need to stay healthy and get back on their feet.”

Requiring drug manufacturers to take back unwanted medication from consumers has already been implemented at the local level in some of the state’s biggest counties, including King and Snohomish, according to a summary of House Bill 1047. Massachusetts, Vermont and California have also adopted similar pharmaceutical product stewardship laws, it said.

Some lawmakers opposed requiring drug companies to fund repossession and disposal on concerns that they would raise prices. Others charged that the measure mandating additional opioid training for doctors is unnecessary, given that they’re already heavily trained and regulated, and because it doesn’t do enough to address heroin addiction.

“We’re fighting the wrong monster here,” said Republican Rep. Dan Griffey. “It’s now heroin. It really is.”

In September Washington state and the city of Seattle joined more than two dozen other government entities across the country suing to hold opioid makers accountable for the addiction crisis.

The governments hope to recoup costs of responding to drug addiction, including money spent on emergencies, criminal justice and social services.

The Washington state lawsuit accused the drug companies of deliberately overstating the effectiveness of their prescription painkillers while misleading patients and doctors about the risks of addiction — in violation of Washington’s consumer protection laws.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin and one of the companies named in the legal action, has denied those allegations but said in a statement at the time that it was “deeply troubled” by the addiction crisis and “dedicated to being part of the solution.”

This bill apparently gives Pharmacists the LEGAL RIGHT to change the quantity on a opiate prescription. – a basic function of the practice of medicine.. so is the state of Washington legislature giving pharmacist the legal right to practice medicine without making a change to either the Medicare practice act nor the pharmacy practice act.

Using national averages.. the state of Washington would have about 12,500 deaths from the use/abuse of the two drugs Alcohol & Nicotine… about TEN TIMES what die of opiate overdoses.

Why are we not seeing legislatures being concerned about all these deaths ?

7 Responses

  1. Please join us at the Washington Pain Advocacy Group on Facebook where we are fighting for our lives. A group of us attended the 02/09/18 meeting of the WA DOH Opioid Prescribing Committee and provided the chronic/intractable pain side of the heroin crisis. Every state has a Facebook group – please search for your state and ‘Pain Advocacy Group’. We all need to join together to fight at our state legislatures and meet with our members of Congress. There will be Don’t Punish Pain rallies in nearly every state – please look on Facebook for all of the information.

  2. How can a pharmacist with no knowledge about my medical situation and chronic pain be given the right to decide the quantity of opioids ordered by my trusted medical providers? This is insane and undermines my doctors’ authority and judgement. Moreover, when will our law enforcement officials take a larger responsibility for reigning in addicts and getting them off the street and prosecuting then? Those who abuse heroin, fentanyl and opioids, and other non prescribed substances, are making a conscious choice to do so and must take responsibility for their actions

    • Doctors have no where the education and training in medications that pharmacists do. Actually, pharmacists are better trained and educated than doctors are when it comes to medications.

      • what you say is most likely true… but they don’t have the legal authority to do a in person physical exam, don’t have access to the pt’s entire medical records, do not have the legal authority to make a diagnose and do not have prescriptive authority.. one of the basics of the practice of medicine is the starting, changing, stopping a pt’s medications… they can consult with the prescriber to make suggestions that would/could be a better alternative for the pt.. they do not have the legal authority to make changes to the pt’s medication unilaterally. And no Legislature has the legal right to change the medical practice act or pharmacy practice act and grant legal authority for certain persons to do things which they have no training or expertise in doing. Likewise, when you are dealing with a subjective disease (pain) there are no tests to determine the intensity of a pt’s pain… and a pt’s pain will vary – sometimes dramatically — hour to hour day to day.. You either believe what the pt tells you their level of pain or you don’t

        • Under Federal Law pharmacists have Corresponding Responsibility.

          Some pharmacists contact doctors and share their concerns and suggestions. If the doctor agrees. The prescription is changed. Patients are not always informed the doctor agreed to the change. If the doctor does not agree. Or if the pharmacist is not comfortable with filling the prescription he or she does not have to fill it.

          • IMO… the interpretation of “corresponding responsibility” by the DEA is expecting pharmacists to EXCEED their legal authority under the state practice act… “I’m not comfortable” is not a factual reason to refuse to fill a prescription… Corresponding responsibility is – or should be – a two way street … it is the pharmacist responsibility to make sure that a dose does not get into the wrong hand.. they also have the responsibility that a dose gets into the right hand. Because most are paranoid of the DEA . they could care very little about not getting the dose in the right hand.. they would rather have someone (controlled substance dependent pt) to be thrown into cold turkey withdrawal than take a chance that a dose gets into the wrong hand… since we have a estimated 100 million chronic pain pt and 1.2 million serious addicts/substance abusers. The odds of a dose getting in the wrong hand is much less than the dose not getting into the right hand. I have to yet to encounter a pharmacist that can determine how much medication a pt needs by looking at them..just like they can’t tell how hungry, thirst, fatigued a person is by looking at them.. .because it is all subjective feeling. A pharmacist that contact a doc and the doc agrees to change and the pharmacist does not inform the pt of what went on…the reason for the change… what happen to consulting with the pt.. or did OBRA 90 get repealed ?

  3. Nicotine and alcohol can be legally bought in a store without a prescription. You cannot compare nicotine and alcohol to opiates

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