ANNAPOLIS — A proposal focused on replacing addictive painkillers with drugs that deter abuse has gained approval from both sides of the Maryland Legislature.

The bill sponsored by Delegate Karen Lewis Young came in response to the wave of heroin and prescription drug abuse that has swept across Frederick County and the state as a whole. The proposal would require insurance carriers to provide coverage for at least two brand-name and two generic abuse-deterrent painkillers.

Prescription opioids that are resistant to abuse can be chemically designed to prevent crushing, grinding or liquefying, or crafted so that they do not provide a feeling of euphoria.

Without these safeguards, prescription painkillers can become addictive to those who receive prescriptions and also act as a temptation to young people who might find the drugs in the medicine cabinet, said Lewis Young, D-District 3A. Opioids can also act as a gateway to heroin abuse, she said.

“I’m hoping that we’re giving alternatives, that fewer people will get addicted,” she said Thursday.

Lewis Young said she hopes her legislation will fuel competition between drugmakers.

“I think you’ll see the pharmaceutical companies now coming up with a more robust product line of nonaddictive formulas because if they can increase production and variety, they may be able to do it at a lower cost,” Lewis Young said.

The proposal does not affect a physician’s ability to prescribe medication, she said.

The Maryland Senate on Thursday unanimously approved the measure, which had already cleared the House of Delegates. An identical version sponsored by Sen. Catherine Pugh, D-Baltimore city, has also succeeded in the Legislature.

The bills will now come before Gov. Larry Hogan, who will decide whether to sign them into law. Lewis Young said she is optimistic that he will support the proposal.

Frederick resident Bob Kozloski, who lost his son to an OxyContin overdose, was one of the proposal’s supporters. He argued in written testimony that Lewis Young’s bill would “be part of the toolkit” in reducing overdose deaths. However, he also asked lawmakers, among other things, to strengthen the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and increase penalties for doctors who are at fault in prescription drug overdose deaths.

Though these measures did not move forward, Kozloski said the success of Lewis Young’s bill will encourage his continued advocacy efforts.

“It actually makes me want to fight harder,” Kozloski said Thursday.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(6) comments

dcg326

Laws for pain , some need pain killers. Oh oh legal whiskey drinking may reduce pains as smokimg pot from DC.This is just more paper.

HappyMedium

I met someone whose had a bad back since being a weight lifter in high school; a sport no longer allowed in high schools. But because of the push to reduce the use of addictive pain meds his physician refused to prescribe them he became unable to work.

The medical community has already been decreasing the use of these meds and this law is probably worthless.

If you can't live with the pain however the assisted suicide law won't help you either because you don't have a terminal condition.

bigdogs02

Same day news -- check it out 'Heroin dealer sentenced to 35 years . . .'

Dang, it looks like we have our priorities wrong -- we are incarcerating a person who can assist Karen Lewis Young and Ron with their much needed assisted suicide -- their lame brain legislative proposals are killing me!

sue1955

I've already commented previously (as has other readers) when this issue has been published in the FNP. This woman is so misguided and uninformed. If she thinks that anybody who takes opioids for something legitimate is going to get addicted and/or has a euphoric feeling if they take such painkillers, she is sadly mistaken. Only people with a genetic makeup to abuse drugs will pursue taking them beyond what they were originally prescribed for. The few times that I took such opioids after surgery, for example, all they did was help with the pain. I have never had a euphoric feeling nor did I ever have any desire to continue to take them.

Such opioids already have a coating where crushing is difficult, if not impossible. I learned this from my late brother-in-law who had to take such drugs for his spinal cord injury. (He was in a wheelchair). So, I don't understand why this sponsor thinks that something additional has to be done.

There are already prescription painkillers that are not narcotics. This sponsor is so uninformed about what is already in existence. Where is this woman getting the idea that there needs to be lower cost prescription painkillers? Virtually all are generic and cost very little.

There are already restrictions on opioids that the DEA put into place. It has already been publicized elsewhere that the sponsors of that change regret it. As most people probably realize (who follow this subject), the so-called heroin "epidemic" has been largely created by the restriction of opioids. Another aspect of this restrictive law greatly affects people who are mostly immobile. This current Federal law is a huge problem for veterans and others who are in wheelchairs and/or bedridden most or all of the time.

If somebody wants to commit suicide, there are other methods besides overdosing on painkillers. Lastly, making doctors accountable for a patient's suicide is really overreaching. Unless it is a case such as celebrity deaths where the person can pay for anything they want and it is obvious that the physician went too far, blaming doctors is not right.

As one article stated not long ago, when you see a patient (veteran) with his chest blown out or both legs blown off, you realize that restricting opioids that are really needed is not the thing to do. That was a graphic statement made at that time, but it states the truth.

bigdogs02

Love your comment above, so I will add the abbreviated version:

"This woman is so misguided and uninformed."

fnfn

The problem is not the drugs, it is a drug culture of take a pill for everything.

After I no longer needed reduced pain, the drugs were nothing but uncomfortable.

The Vietnam men on drugs, mostly quit them when they no longer needed to medicate Hell. Less needed to medicate hell here.

Look at Portugal and their success in drug reduction. Google Portugal drug reduction.

For a way out of the need for self medications, see http://maps.org

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