Opioid abuse prevention bill heading to governor

The abuse of prescription and illegal opioids is the deadliest drug epidemic in American history, and we have seen the terrible impacts throughout the state and here in our local communities. We must address the supply of these medications if we are serious about ending an opioid addiction epidemic that kills thousands of Michigan residents every year and it is getting worse.

My legislation to help combat the state’s growing opioid addiction epidemic is on its way to the governor to be signed. Senate Bill 47 would mandate more use by prescribers and dispensers of the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS), a state-run program that tracks patients and prescribers for over-supply of Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances.

While we stop abusers from taking advantage of the system to get excessive amounts of dangerously addictive drugs, we must also ensure continued access to pain medications for patients who truly need them.

It is critical that doctors have a quick and accurate prescription database to check a patient’s history. My bill will help doctors better recognize potential addiction and stop doctor shopping that leads to addiction.

Opioid abuse is a complex problem. This is a common-sense, grassroots approach to a comprehensive solution to protect our communities, save lives and maintain access to necessary pain medications.

Mark Cochran, who co-chaired the Medical Work Group as part of Monroe County’s Call to Action to Reduce Prescription Drug and Heroin Addiction, supported my bill.

He said, “Senator Zorn has long been a steadfast partner in our efforts to prevent diversion, and we applaud his work on bringing this crucial legislation to passage. Now that Michigan has a modern prescription drug monitoring system, its usefulness and relevance is only as good as the accuracy and completeness of a patient’s history. Making sure all prescribers are inputting information into the system is a positive step forward in preventing the over-prescription of opioids. Our work is certainly not done, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with our legislators to attack this problem from all sides.”

April Demers, chief operating officer of the Lenawee Community Mental Health Authority, also supported our efforts.

She said, “As communities throughout the state of Michigan continue to work together to address the opioid and prescription drug abuse epidemic, we are thankful for the hard work of Senator Dale Zorn in championing legislation to enhance the utilization of our prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). PDMPs are a critical tool in the fight that we face against the abuse and diversion of prescription medications. A recent study by Vanderbilt University reports that the implementation of state-level PDMPs is associated with preventing approximately one opioid-related overdose death every two hours on average nationwide. This legislation is a significant win in the fight against the opioid epidemic, and on the behalf of prevention initiatives across Michigan, we express our gratitude.”