LANSING — Prescription opioid drug abuse could be added to the health curriculum for Michigan students.
State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, has introduced Senate Bill 237, which says such education should include “at least instruction on the prescription drug epidemic and the connection between prescription opioid drug abuse and addiction to other drugs.”
If passed, the Michigan Department of Education would have to develop a model program of instruction on prescription drug and opioid abuse by July 2018. This program would be based on recommendations of Michigan’s Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission.
Gov. Rick Snyder created the commission in June 2016, which has 17 members including individuals representing the medical, psychological, dentistry, pharmaceutical and veterinary industries, as well as law enforcement, hospice, substance-abuse providers, sufferers of chronic pain and the general public.
“Prescription drug and opioid abuse is a very serious issue impacting people in communities all across our state,” Snyder said. “We need to take action to address this epidemic before addiction takes its toll on more innocent people.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdoes killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.
Michigan was tagged by the CDC as a state seeing a “statistically significant” increase in drug overdose deaths, increased by 13.3 percent form 2014 to 2015. Last year, Michigan passed laws allowing schools to have at least one dose of the overdose reversal drug naloxone on-hand and allowing Michigan residents to obtain naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, without a prescription.
SB 237 is the latest of Schuitmaker’s efforts to reduce opioid overdoses. She previously served on the prescription drug and opioid abuse commission, and has introduced two other opioid-related bills this term.
SB 769 would require doctors to check the Michigan Automated Prescription System (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.
SB 237 has been referred to the committee on health reform.
— Follow this reporter on Twitter @SentinelErin.