Zorn bill seeks to help destroy unused drugs in hospice care

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has introduced legislation to help combat opioid abuse by allowing hospice nurses to safely dispose of excess prescription drugs when the drugs are no longer needed.

“We continue to see the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic in our state and our local communities,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “One of the problems at the heart of this crisis is the easy access to highly addictive drugs. This legislation targets the issue of safely destroying unused medications of patients receiving hospice care.”

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. A hospice employee may not assist in disposal unless there is a state law permitting assistance.

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

“The Monroe County Substance Abuse Coalition partners with a local Call to Action Medical Workgroup to address prescription drug abuse in our community,” said Vicky Loveland, coordinator of the coalition. “The perspective from the medical community is significant as we work toward preventing opioid misuse. Our coalition continues to be proactive in trying to reduce access to unused prescription drugs, and this additional action would enforce a safe disposal policy.”

The bill would also require providers of hospice services to establish and implement a 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 education to patients and their families on the safe disposal of prescription drugs.

“This can help reduce drug diversion, which is fueling the opioid crisis,” Zorn said.