Tate Bill Aims to Curb Opioid Abuse

DENVER – The Colorado State Senate took a positive step to curb opioid abuse today by passing Senate Bill-22, authored by Centennial Republican Jack Tate, on a bipartisan vote. It’s one of five opioid-related bills focused on clinical prescribing practices in the state.

Tate’s bill puts guardrails around the quantities of opioid medication that a health care practitioner can prescribe, thus limiting the latent supplies that result from clinical over-prescribing. For initial prescriptions related to getting a tooth pulled, a surgery, or other short-term issues, prescriptions would be limited to a seven-day supply for the first prescription (for a person who had not been prescribed opioids in the last 12 months). Individuals with chronic or long-term conditions would be among the exceptions. 

Tate recognizes the tie between over-prescribing and the state’s opioid epidemic, but says the larger issue is unused prescriptions. “The latent supply of prescription opioids in people’s cabinets, waiting to be acquired those who may abuse and misuse, is a looming danger,” said Tate. Reducing these latent supplies that result from clinical opioid overprescribing is a critical first step.” 

Health care practitioners already can access the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), but SB-22 will require them to do so before prescribing the first refill prescription for an opioid (except under specified circumstances), and requires the practitioner to indicate his or her specialty or practice area upon the initial query. 

The bill further restricts the number of opioid pills that other types of health care practitioners, including physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, and veterinarians, may prescribe for an initial prescription to a 7-day supply, and one refill for a 7-day supply (with certain exceptions). The bill clarifies that a health care practitioner may electronically prescribe opioids.

SB-22 now moves to the House for consideration.

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