LANSING — After months of gathering research on the topic, the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force presented Gov. Rick Snyder with a comprehensive report of its findings. The group — which includes state Rep. Andy Schor (D-Lansing) — made more than two dozen recommendations for changes in regulations and practices that could address this growing problem in Michigan.
“Individuals across the state are dealing with problems related to abusing prescription drugs and opioids, and it’s important that we deal with this issue,” Schor said. “This is not a partisan issue, it is a human issue, and our findings and recommendations prove that to help people struggling with this problem, we must act now.”
The full report makes 25 primary recommendations and seven contingent recommendations in the areas of prevention, treatment, regulation, policy and outcomes, and enforcement. Highlights of the recommendations include:
- Updating or replacing the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS).
- Requiring registration and use of MAPS by those who are prescribing and dispensing prescription drugs.
- Updating regulations on the licensing of pain clinics, which hasn’t been done since 1978.
- Increasing licensing sanctions for health professionals who violate proper prescribing and dispensing practices.
- Providing easier access to Naloxone, a drug that reduces the effects of an opioid overdose.
- Limiting criminal penalties for low-level offenses for those who seek medical assistance with an overdose.
- Increasing access to care through wraparound services and Medication Assisted Treatment programs.
- Requiring additional training for professionals who prescribe controlled substances.
- Reviewing successful drug takeback programs for possible replication and expansion.
- Increasing the number of addiction specialists practicing in Michigan.
- Reviewing programs to eliminate doctor and pharmacy shopping and requiring a bona fide doctor-patient relationship for prescribing controlled substances.
- Creating a public awareness campaign about the dangers of prescription drug use and abuse and how people can get help for themselves or family members.
- Increasing training for law enforcement in recognizing and dealing with addiction for those officers who do not deal directly with narcotics regularly.
- Considering pilot programs for the development of testing to reduce the increasing incidence of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, which leads to severe withdrawal symptoms for babies born to mothers who have been using opioids.
“There is an impact on the lives of individuals, their families and their communities when abusing any sort of drug is involved, but the availability of prescription drugs and opioids and the ease of abuse of these substances gives our state a needed call to action,” Schor said. “With these recommendations, we can begin to address a problem that cannot go untreated any longer, or we risk a growing threat to the health and wellbeing of our state.”