LANSING — Doctors would be required to check a prescription database before prescribing painkillers and other powerful drugs under legislation that won final approval, the latest attempt to combat Michigan's deadly opioid epidemic.
Other bills would limit the amount of opioids that could be prescribed, require a "bona fide" physician-patient relationship to dispense drugs and require that those being treated for an overdose receive information on substance abuse services. Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign the measures.
The requirement for health providers to use the recently upgraded Michigan Automated Prescription System would take effect in June, with some exceptions. The electronic database tracks schedule 2-5 drugs. State officials say improvements to the system have put Michigan at the forefront of prescription drug monitoring technology.
A bill sponsor, Republican Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker of Lawton, said physicians would be able to instantaneously check a patient's prescription history — a process that she said would take two seconds instead of 10 to 15 minutes like before.
"It will cut down on two problems we're seeing — pill mills and doctor shopping," she said. "I think this will be the strongest reporting system in the nation."
The main bill passed 86-24 in the GOP-led House and 36-1 in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Rep. John Bizon, a doctor, voted for the requirement while also opposing a bill that would sanction physicians who do not comply.
"I still have concerns that we are going to be leaving our patients, our citizens, our mothers, our fathers in pain without access to narcotics that could very easily remove that pain," the Battle Creek Republican said. He added "this is not a medical issue, this is a societal issue," and additional steps are needed such as building more treatment centers.
Rep. LaTanya Garrett, a Detroit Democrat, who voted against the main bill, expressed concern that it would delay access to anti-epileptic drugs for her daughter and others.
Other bills approved last week would let Medicaid recipients receive medically necessary treatment for opioid addiction and, starting in the 2019-20 school year, require the state to include instruction on prescription opioid abuse in model health education standards.