As the over-prescription of opioid pain killers continues to plague the country, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is proposing new legislation to help curb it. In Chautauqua County on Monday morning, Gillibrand announced a new bipartisan bill that would limit initial supplies of opioid prescriptions for short-term acute pain to just seven days.
Mental Health Association of Chautauqua County Executive Director Kia Briggs believes the bill will foster communication with doctors about their patients’ pain.
“It will help individuals have a conversation with their doctor on why they feel they need more than a seven-day supply,” said Briggs. “And with that conversation, hopefully doctors can help do referrals to the appropriate treatment or at least refer to support services.”
The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Arizona Republican John McCain, would not apply to the treatment of chronic pain, or pain being treated as part of care programs for cancer, hospice, addiction, or palliative and end of life services.
The bill is modeled after the success of New York’s I-STOP program, which began in 2013 and was put into full effect in 2016, allowing doctors to see in a statewide online portal what pain medications a patient has already been prescribed.
“It has greatly reduced the over-prescription of any narcotics, especially for acute pain,” said Briggs.
The announcement of the bill follows the release of data from the CDC showing that while the overall amount of opioids prescribed dropped from 2010 to 2015, the amount prescribed in 2015 was still three times as high as it was in 1999. Briggs said part of the original problem is poor education.
“Doctors back in the '90s probably were misled on the total effects that narcotics play on pain. So to focus on the doctors, on having education, on truly that it’s only needed for acute pain, and if its needed for any time longer that they may need a referral to pain management or specialties.”
While Briggs is optimistic about the impact of the legislation, she noted that in New York and nationwide, the issue of access to drug addiction treatment must also be addressed.