Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced five pieces of legislation relating to access to prescription drug databases and the purchase of the overdose drug naloxone for cities and towns.
Two of the bills would amend the law regarding access to the drug monitoring database. The first bill (2016-H 7847), which McNamara introduced at the request of the Department of Health, would authorize any vendor, agent, contractor, or designee who operates an electronic medical health record (EMR) or clinical management system to have access to the prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP).
The second bill (2016-H 7518), introduced at the request of the attorney general, would remove the requirement that information contained in any prescription drug monitoring database maintained by the Department of Health be provided to law enforcement authorities only pursuant to a valid search warrant, and would instead permit disclosure of said information to such authorities if in connection with a bona fide specific investigation.
“These two bills are designed to streamline the process by which the prescription drug monitoring database is accessed,” said McNamara, who chairs the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee. “The first would make things easier for vendors who operate medical health records. The second would make things easier for the attorney general in accessing the database — but only for a specific investigation, so privacy would not be compromised.”
The third bill (2016-H 7357) would require physicians, dentists, and other healthcare professionals who treat patients complete at least five hours of training every two years on the risks of addiction associated with medications prescribed for pain management. It would also require physicians to complete training necessary to obtain a DATA 2000 waiver to prescribe buprenorphine.
“According to the national Conference of State Legislators, overdoses from OxyContin and other opioid pain relievers killed nearly 20,000 Americans in 2014,” said McNamara. “It’s one of the deadliest drug epidemics in U.S. history. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is close to taking the unprecedented step of issuing national guidelines to curb liberal opioid prescribing practices widely blamed as the cause of the epidemic. It has become imperative that all medical personnel receive special training on the dangers of addiction associated with pain medication.”
The fourth bill (2016-H 7368) would create a restricted receipt account for the purchase and distribution of the naloxone overdose treatment drug – known by the trade name Narcan – to the cities and towns, and to fund medication-assisted treatment delivery, including the use of methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.
“Last year, the General Assembly passed a law mandating that public middle schools, junior highs and high schools have opioid antagonist kits on their premises,” said McNamara, “and many first responders are equipped with the drug. This bill comes up with a way to fund the use of Narcan in cities and towns.”
Narcan is the trade name of naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of overdoses of opiates, including heroin and many commonly abused prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin. The drug generally has no adverse effects if given to someone who is not overdosing, and is administered as either a nasal spray or an injection that can be delivered even through clothing.
The last bill (2016-H 7772) would remove school district approval from the enrollment process for recovery high school students and would require the transfer of the per pupil core instructional amount. The act would also require the state to annually provide no less than $500,000 to each recovery high school.
“It is no longer appropriate for school districts to have the approval in sending a student to a recovery high school,” said McNamara. “That’s a decision that should be made by medical professionals rather than educators. When a student has been diagnosed with substance use disorder or dependency, and a licensed clinician believes the student is a candidate for the recovery high school, then that should be the determining factor in the referral.”
Both that bill and the Narcan bill have been referred to the House Finance Committee, while the others have been referred to the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare.