The House Health and Welfare Committee advances a bill that would limit first-time opioid prescriptions in Louisiana, in the hopes of addressing a growing opioid epidemic. Former Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Karen DeSalvo testified in support of the bill.
She says across the country 90 people are dying a day from opioid overdoses.
“We’ve all been to the funerals. We’ve seen the headlines. We know that the increase in opioid deaths related to prescription drugs meant that 891 people in Louisiana lost their life in 2014 alone,” DeSalvo said.
The proposal by New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno would limit first-time opioid prescriptions to a 7-day supply. The measure also requires doctors to tell their patients about the risks involved with taking pain pills. DeSalvo says this allows for an open dialogue between patients and their doctors.
“They need to ask their doctors about harms. They need to tell their doctor if they have any history of substance abuse disorder, and they need to be willing to come forward if they think that they do to have an opportunity for treatment and recovery,” DeSalvo said.
The bill allows patients to request pharmacists not fill the entire quantity of opioid prescription if they don’t need it. DeSalvo says this will limit the number of extra pain pills people have in their medicine cabinets, which keeps them away from friends and family. She says this can prevent other people from getting addicted to painkillers.
“Those who are prescribed prescription drugs but don’t take them and they languish in the medicine cabinet, we know from talking to young people that’s where they get started on using opioids,” DeSalvo said.
The measure now heads to the House floor for more discussion.