Pubdate: Tue, 21 Nov 2017
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)
Copyright: 2017 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Contact: P.O. Box 1909, Seattle, WA 98111-1909
Author: Joel Connelly


Opioid overdoses are killing two people in Washington each day, and
Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Tuesday urged legislation that will
limit new legal opioid prescriptions and monitor those receiving the

The extent of the state's opioid epidemic was outline in a report
released by the AG's office, the Washington State Patrol and the
Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, detailing its legal
and illegal roots.

It urges action on prescription opioids, "often the source of initial
exposure to opioids."

"To date, Washington has not imposed daily or dosage limits on opioid
prescriptions across the board," said the report.

Only about 30 percent of Washington's medical and dental providers who
prescribe controlled substances have registered for the state's
Prescription Monitoring Program.

"As prescription opioids become expensive and difficult to obtain,
dependent users often turn to heroin," said the report. "According to
WSP, drug cartels have fully exploited this market, more than doubling
production of heroin since 2005.

"The high purity of heroin being distributed in our region can be
smoked and snorted, reducing the stigma associated with using needles."

In Ferguson's words, "It is time for the Legislature to take action."
He is asking the Legislature to enact three proposals.

One bill would require health care providers to check the state's
prescription-monitoring database before prescribing opioids. The state
does have a prescription-monitoring program to collect records when
patients receive controlled substances such as opioids.

But only 30 percent of providers have registered to use it. The AG's
proposed legislation would require providers to check the state's
database for a patient's prescription history before prescribing opioids.

The second legislation would limit initial opioid prescriptions to
prevent over--prescribing. Prescribing more than a week's supply of
opioids approximately doubles the chance that a person will still be
using the drugs a year later.
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