House committee OKs Zorn hospice drug disposal bill

LANSING, Mich. — The House Healthy Policy Committee on Wednesday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to help combat opioid abuse by allowing hospices to help patient families safely dispose of excess prescription drugs.

“On a regular basis, we see the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic in our state and our local communities,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “At the heart of this ongoing crisis is the easy access to highly addictive drugs, and my bill targets the issue by allowing unused medications of patients receiving hospice care to be safely destroyed.”

Controlled substances prescribed to a hospice patient are the property of the patient or the patient’s family in the case of the patient’s death. Under current law, a hospice employee may not assist in disposal of the drugs.

Senate Bill 842 would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to implement rules for the disposal of controlled substances in the homes of hospice patients when drugs are not needed by the patient or the patient has died.

The bill also would require a hospice or a provider of hospice services in a patient’s private home to establish and implement a written controlled substance disposal policy.

The policies would need to include procedures for offering assistance in disposing controlled substances and recording the patient or the family’s decision on accepting or declining assistance, as well as requirements for witnessing the disposal and providing a patient or family with information on the safe disposal of prescription drugs.

“I thank the committee for their action and urge the House to pass this important legislation to establish clear guidelines for how hospices can help grieving families safely dispose of unused prescription drugs after a loved one has passed away,” Zorn said.

SB 842 now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration.