- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan House on Tuesday approved legislation that would create an opioid prescription abuse program for school districts and to let Medicaid pay for patient detoxification and rehabilitation services for people with addictions.

The bills also would prevent doctors from giving prescriptions without written parental consent and let pharmacists refuse filling prescriptions suspected of being fake.

“Whether you’re Democrat or Republican you know or see or heard of kids and others who have faced this and have real struggles and have died as a result,” Lansing Democratic state Rep. Andy Schor said on the House floor before Tuesday’s vote on his bill dealing with Medicaid payments.

Prescription painkillers are now more widespread than tobacco use, said Rep. Kathy Crawford, a Republican from Novi who sponsored the bill that would let pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions they believe are forged.

“In the past 25 years there’s been a shift in society,” she said. “We now have a pill for everything. If you need more hair there’s a pill for that. If you want to lose weight there’s a pill for that, to go to sleep, to stay awake and we all know many other pills that are advertised.”

Crawford said national data shows that 2 percent of high school students and 2½ percent of adults are addicted to opiates, which can include prescription painkillers such as morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone as well as street drugs such as heroin and synthetics such as non-pharmaceutical fentanyl.

A danger of prescription drug abuse is that it can lead to use of drugs such as heroin. Prescription drug use may be more prevalent, but heroin is cheaper and easier for users to get.

Nearly 2,000 people died in 2015 in Michigan from drug overdoses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Michigan and some other states are facing opioid epidemics.

State Rep. Edward Canfield, a Republican from Sebewaing, voted against the legislation dealing with letting pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions, saying they’re already able to do that.

“This liability, the way the bill is currently written, does not require any recording by the pharmacists,” Canfield said. “Now if a prescription is falsely obtained, it is a forgery, the numbers have been changed, or perhaps the physician is not doing things the way they should be or the prescriber, the pharmacists currently has the right to not fill that prescription.”

Canfield offered an amendment that would require pharmacists to report to the physician the forged prescription, or if they suspect the prescriber is the problem, they would be able to report it to the state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs office.

His amendment failed.

The bills now go to the GOP-controlled Senate, but likely won’t be taken up until September after lawmakers return from break.

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