Prevent Opioid Abuse Applauds Introduction of Legislation Giving Patients and Parents the Information They Need to Prevent Opioid Addiction

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For Immediate Release:

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Prevent Opioid Abuse Applauds Introduction of Legislation Giving Patients and Parents the Information They Need to Prevent Opioid Addiction

Calls on Maryland General Assembly to Pass SB 522/HB 653

Annapolis, MD – Prevent Opioid Abuse, a national organization working to educate patients and
parents about the risks of opioid-based painkillers and the availability of non-opioid alternatives,
applauded today’s introduction of SB 522.

Sponsored by Senator Katherine Klausmeier (D-8), the legislation would require prescribers to
inform patients, and parents of minor children, about the risk of addiction before an opioid is
prescribed and when appropriate, discuss the availability of non-opioid alternative pain relief
treatments. This common-sense requirement enables patients and parents to recognize signs of
addiction and alerts them to less risky alternative methods of pain relief.

“Requiring a conversation between doctors and patients and parents before an opioid is
prescribed is a simple, but extremely effective measure that will result in saving lives,” said
Prevent Opioid Abuse Founder Elaine Pozycki.

The over-prescribing of opioid-based pain relievers, such as Oxycodone and Vicodin, is the
primary cause of today’s epidemic of opioid addiction, both to opioid-based painkillers and their
illegal street cousin, heroin.  More than 200 million prescriptions for opioid-based painkillers are
written annually in the United States, and Americans take more than 80 percent of the opioid-
based painkillers used globally, despite representing just 5 percent of the world’s population.

The results of this overprescribing can be seen right here in Maryland. According to the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, more than 2,000 people died from drug overdoses in
Maryland in 2017, making it the state with the 7 th highest overdose rate in the nation. Nationally,
overdoses of prescription painkillers alone have increased by 500% over the past 17 years,
resulting in more than 200,000 deaths in that time period, the CDC reports.

“All Maryland patients and parents of patients have the right to know that the medicine they are
being prescribed can lead to dependency and addiction. They should also be made aware that
there are opioid-free alternatives that are available in many situations,” Sen. Klausmeier said.
“My legislation ensures that this life-saving information is provided at the time it matters most
— when an opioid-pain reliever is about to be prescribed. To ensure this essential conversation
between patient and prescriber occurs, I will work for this bill’s speedy passage into law.”
SB 522 is based on similar laws that have been adopted by New Jersey, Rhode Island and
Nevada. The National Opioid Commission has made the proposed requirement for a
conversation between prescriber and patient before an opioid is prescribed one of its major
national recommendations.

SB 522 will be heard by the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee
tomorrow, February 15 at 1:00 PM ET. Its co-sponsors, include Senators DeGrange, Middleton,
Simonaire, Smith, Young, and Zucker.  A companion bill, HB 653, sponsored by Delegate Karen
Young (D-3A) has been introduced and will be heard by the Health & Government Operations
Committee on Feb. 21.

“Unfortunately, doctors rarely discuss the addiction potential of opioids before prescribing
them,” said Andrew Kolodny, MD, Co-Founder of Physicians for Responsible Prescribing and a
Senior Adviser to Prevent Opioid Abuse. “Requiring this conversation will not only result in
better informed parents, patients and prescribers, it will save lives and spare many families from
the devastating impact of opioid addiction.”