Senate OKs Zorn bill to reduce opioid prescription abuse

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to combat opioid abuse by requiring prescriptions for the drugs to be transmitted from the doctor to the pharmacy electronically.

“This reform is designed to help stop the state’s opioid abuse problem by reducing fraudulent availability of these highly addictive drugs,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “While improving overall patient safety and efficient access to necessary medications, requiring the use of electronic prescriptions would reduce the illegal supply of opioids through fraud and virtually eliminate ‘doctor shopping’ — where someone acquires drugs from several different doctors.”

Senate Bill 248, sponsored by Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, would require the electronic prescribing of prescription drugs in Michigan by Jan. 1, 2021. If a prescriber could not meet the electronic transmission requirements due to a technological limitation that was not reasonably within their control, they could apply for a waiver from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

Zorn’s bill, SB 254, would apply to prescriptions for controlled substances containing opioids or benzodiazepines.

Electronic prescribing, or e-prescribing, is the use of a technological system by prescribers to write and transmit a patient’s prescription to a participating pharmacy.

“We have seen the terrible impacts of the opioid epidemic in our state and our local communities,” Zorn said. “It’s time for Michigan to join other states with an e-prescribing requirement for controlled substances to help us stop abusers and drug dealers from using fraudulent prescriptions to get these dangerous drugs.”

According to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis of the bills, at least 23 states require e-prescribing with certain exemptions.

SBs 248 and 254 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.