Opioid Epidemic town hall breaks down upcoming legislation

LAS VEGAS - The conversation around the Opioid Crisis continued Tuesday night as members of the medical field gathered for a town hall meeting. 

Pain patients also attended the discussion breaking down Assembly Bill 474, the new law on pain medication taking effect January 1, 2018.

The bill provides physicians with points they need to check off when writing opioid prescription. The guidelines include screening tools to determine if a patient is at higher risk of abusing or selling their pain medication, but healthcare professionals say the new law goes into effect next month whether patients or providers like it or not.

Richard Martin has been living with chronic pain for more than 10 years.

"It's pretty much ruined my life in terms of quality of life," said Martin.

Martin has had countless surgeries to try and get to the root of the problem, but nothing worked, except opioids. 

Martin had to give up his career due to his extreme pain. As a former pharmacist, he has been on both sides of the counter and understands the stigma attached to pain.

"They say one in four patients becomes addicted to opioid prescriptions and that's just not true," expressed Martin.

"This legislation makes it very clear that we'll have to establish a very strict relationship between the provider and the patient with regards to the prescription of these opioid medications," stated Daniel Burkhead, MD. 

Burkhead says with AB 474, physicians will have to provide more information when writing opioid prescriptions otherwise they won't be filled.

"That should allow the pharmacists to have a better understanding of the patient's condition and have a greater understanding of why they may need these pain-killing medications," Burkhead explained.

Patients, like Richard Martin, are worrying that these extra guidelines will make it even more difficult to get their prescriptions filled.

"I'm really afraid what's gonna happen is that a lot of doctors are just gonna quit prescribing all these opioid pain medications altogether because they don't want to be bothered with it," Martin added. "We have been bamboozled by pill mills and drug-seeking behavior-type people."

Stephanie Woodard, PSY.D explained the reasoning behind developing the Drug Abuse Prevention Act.

"We really are looking at this as a prevention technique," Woodard said.

It's a prevention technique Martin says patients like him don't need and will make prescribing medication even more difficult for physicians.

"We're not the ones overdosing and we're not the ones who have become addicted but we're the ones suffering the consequences," stated Martin.

Martin says he attends events like Tuesday night's town hall to put a face to some of the pain patients.

"Patients not getting their prescriptions filled when they're legitimate prescriptions...that is a real problem," acknowledged Burkhead, MD. But he explained that pharmacies have their own policies and AB 474 would not change that. 

 


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