New laws to combat opioid epidemic in effect


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Several Michigan state laws regulating opioids went into effect on Friday.

The laws are part of 10 bills signed by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley last year with a delayed effective date. Some of them took effect in March, with more of being rolled out Friday.

“We’re all about doing no harm, and this legislation will assist us in preventing the harm,” said Dr. Ken Fawcett, vice president of Spectrum Health Healthier Communities.

It will make some changes to the way narcotics are prescribed. The idea is to keep patients safe, make sure they are well informed about their medications and keep unused pills off the streets.

“The medical industry didn’t cause the opioid crisis, we certainly were a contributor though,” Fawcett said.

One of the changes requires doctors to run a Michigan Automated Prescription System query before prescribing narcotics. The query checks if the patient is receiving prescriptions from other doctors.

Before Friday, the check was optional.

“We have to do MAPS queries when we’re prescribing a controlled substance, effectively this allows us to look and see who else has been prescribing for that particular patient,” Fawcett said.

The check will prevent doctors from prescribing medications that might be contraindicated. It will also prevent doctor shopping, where patients with substance abuse disorders jump from doctor to doctor looking for narcotics.

There are more changes on the way next month.

“For the treatment of acute pain, prescriptions are limited to a seven-day duration,” Fawcett said. “As we are prescribing a quantity, we’ll oftentimes auto-populate for any given prescription drug. Typically, a month has been the default.”

A patient could walk out with more pills than they need, which can cause problems. Fawcett said 78 percent of prescribed pills don’t get used, which could lead to more pills on the streets.

The new regulations are about preventing new generations of people with substance abuse disorders.

More information on the new laws and their meaning can be found on the state’s website.

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