Gov. Rick Snyder announces new round of bills to combat the deadly opioid epidemic


LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) -- Opioid overdoses are now claiming more lives than the HIV/AIDS epidemic did during its peak, according to the CDC.

Tonight, Gov. Rick Snyder is laying out a new plan to combat the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history.

We spoke with a father who says with the help of the Governor, the opioid epidemic will end.

When Mike Hirst's son Andy was 14-years-old, he told his dad he would never take drugs.

“Within ten years he was dead of a drug overdose," said Hirst.

Mr. Hirst was shocked the opioid epidemic took hold of Andy's life and stole his dreams and plans for the future.

“I never thought I had to worry about my son dying form a heroin overdose. Wasn’t even on the radar," he said.

Hirst received several calls of Andy becoming unconscious due to his addiction.

He remembers the last call he received when he witnessed paramedics trying to revive Andy's 24-year-old body.

“Here is your beautiful child and they are trying to pump air into his lungs to make his heart beat," said Hirst. "You know, you know it’s not going to happen. You know he’s not going to come back. It’s a felling I wouldn’t want anyone to feel again and I know they will.”

Gov. Snyder and a bi-partisan team of lawmakers are teaming up to end the opioid epidemic.

Lt. Gov. Calley said the bi-partisan legislative team is an "all star cast of lawmakers."

One component of their plan is changing Michigan's prescription culture.

“Back in 2007, there were 180 million prescription units prescribed during the course of 2007," said Gov. Snyder. "And in 2016, the number was 690 million. In nine years things shouldn’t have changed to that level. There’s a lot more pills out there than likely we should need… The prescription drug piece leads to heroin use.”

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker's new bills would require physicians to check a patient's history on a newly revamped computer data base before prescribing medicine, and if they wrongfully prescribe controlled substances, there will be penalties.

Another bill would require school districts to inform kids about the deadly outcomes of opioids.

Hirst says both bills are part of a deadly battle that needs to be won.

"Are you going to win this battle?” asked Political Reporter Nick Minock.

“Absolutely we are going to win this battle," replied Hirst. "I’ve never been in a fight that I didn’t think I could win and I’m not going to start with this one."

Thirteen bills are being introduced to combat the opioid and heroin epidemics.

The legislation announced Thursday will:

  • Require prescribers to obtain reports from MAPS before prescribing or dispensing Schedule 2 through 5 controlled substances to a patient (sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker).
  • Require disciplinary action if a prescriber is not obtaining reports from MAPS (sponsored by Sen. Schuitmaker).
  • Increase penalties for physicians and pharmacists who wrongfully prescribe, dispense, manufacture or distribute controlled substances (sponsored by Sens. Jim Ananich and Margaret O’Brien).
  • Require prescribers to have a bona-fide physician-patient relationship with a patient before prescribing a Schedule 2 through 5 controlled substance (sponsored by Sen. Steve Bieda).
  • Require the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission to adopt recommendations for the instruction of students on prescription drug abuse and the potential of addiction (sponsored by Sen. Schuitmaker and Rep. Beth Griffin).
  • Require schools to include education on opioids and the potential for addiction in health education curriculum (sponsored by Sen. Schuitmaker and Rep. Griffin).
  • Require prescribers to provide information to patients on dangers, proper disposal and penalties for dispensing prior to prescribing a controlled substance (sponsored by Sen. Mike Shirkey).
  • Require physicians to provide patients being treated for an opioid overdose with information on substance use disorder services (sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones).
  • Create prescribing limits for opioids. Prescribers would be limited to prescribing chronic pain sufferers a 30-day supply of opioids and acute pain suffers a 7-day supply of opioids (sponsored by Sen. Marty Knollenberg).
  • Require pain management facilities to be licensed by the state (sponsored by Rep. Sam Singh).
  • Provide treatment options for Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from opioid addiction including medically necessary acute treatment services, inpatient care and clinical stabilization services (sponsored by Rep. Andy Schor).
  • Protect pharmacists from civil liability if the pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription, so long as they are acting in good faith and have reasonable doubt regarding the authenticity of the prescription or believe the prescription is being filled for non-medical purposes (sponsored by Rep. Kathy Crawford).
  • Require parental consent and signature before a minor receives their first prescription of a controlled substance containing an opioid. Prior to receiving consent, the prescriber should discuss with the minor and their parent the potential risk of addiction and overdose (sponsored by Rep. Joseph Bellino).
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