Senator Margaret O’Brien introduces legislation to combat opioid epidemic

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — New bills introduced by Senator Margaret O’Brien on Tuesday would implement recommendations from the state’s Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force.

Senate Bills 771 and 772 would make it a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison to overprescribe specified controlled substances. The crime currently is a misdemeanor punishable by two years.

“This legislation seeks to eliminate any illicit collusion between pharmacies and physicians,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Commonly referred to as a ‘pill mill,’ these operations often have an illegitimate doctor-pharmacy relationship with a doctor or clinic prescribing certain narcotics, and a pharmacy dispensing them, both lacking a legitimate medical purpose.”

Senate Bills 769 and 770, sponsored by Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, would require doctors to check the Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, before prescribing medications to new patients. MAPS is used to identify and prevent drug diversion at all levels, from the prescribing physician, to the pharmacy, and finally to the patient, by collecting prescriptions for schedule two to schedule five controlled substances.

Under SB 770, failure to consult MAPS prior to the prescription being finalized would require the violating physician to complete remedial continuing medical education, or CME.

“MAPS can be an effective tool in our fight against opioid addiction,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “While these drugs play an important role in the care of many patients, medical professionals should be on the lookout for doctor shopping, a practice in which patients may go to several doctors in an effort to get multiple prescriptions.”

SBs 769-772 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Health Policy.