Senate panel approves Zorn’s opioid abuse bill

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Health Policy Committee on Tuesday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to help combat the growing opioid addiction epidemic in the state.

“Monroe County has been one of the communities hardest hit by a drug abuse problem that killed nearly 2,000 Michigan residents in 2015 in Michigan,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “It is critical that we continue to fight to end the opioid addiction epidemic plaguing our region, state and country.”

Senate Bill 47 would remove existing reporting exemptions and require more reporting of controlled substances to the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS), which is the prescription monitoring program for the state and tracks patients and prescribers for over-supply of Schedule 2 through Schedule 5 controlled substances. Two drugs that would be reported under the bill are methadone and buprenorphine.

“This measure will ensure that doctors have a quick and accurate prescription database that they can use to check a patient’s history and stop the practice of doctor shopping to get multiple prescriptions,” Zorn said. “Abusers are taking advantage of the system to get excessive amounts of dangerously addictive drugs. This legislation would help protect our communities from opioid abuse, save lives and maintain access to pain medications for patients who truly need them.”

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

“We have heard time and time again from those in the medical community that MAPS is only an effective tool in preventing diversion if it contains all of the information prescribers need to review a complete history before safely writing a prescription,” Cochran and Sell said. “Removing these exemptions is critical to ensure the system provides a whole picture of a patient’s history. We appreciate Senator Zorn’s diligence and partnership in making sure we have a system that is relevant, modern and complete. We look forward to the full Legislature recognizing the significance of this bill in combatting Michigan’s opioid epidemic.”

Zorn’s bill is part of a Senate package to help curtail the rising opioid abuse epidemic in the state. SBs 47, 166, 167, 270, 273 and 274 now head to the full Senate for further consideration.