Proposed Legislation May Mean Additional Responsibilities for Physicians When Prescribing Opioids

As the number of victims claimed by the opioid epidemic continues to rise, federal, state and local governments have undertaken a multi-faceted effort to confront this public health crisis. In Pennsylvania, Senator Ryan P. Aument has proposed legislation, Senate Bill 1152, designed to improve the communication between prescribers and patients who require opioid therapy.

The Bill would place additional responsibilities on physicians who are issuing their patients the first prescription in a course of treatment for chronic pain with a controlled substance containing an opioid. In addition to discussing the risks associated with opioid therapies, physicians would also be required to enter into “treatment agreements” with patients starting treatment for chronic pain. The treatment agreement would set forth the following:

  1. The goals of the treatment;
  2. The individual’s consent to targeted drug testing when the physician determines such testing is medically necessary to monitor the individual’s adherence to their treatment;
  3. The prescription drug prescribing policies of the provider;
  4. A requirement that individuals inform their prescribers of any other controlled substances they are prescribed or taking; and
  5. Reasons why the opioid regime may be changed or discontinued by the prescriber.

Physicians would also be required to conduct a baseline drug test for patients starting chronic pain treatment prior to issuing any prescription opioids.

The proposed legislation was referred to the Health and Human Services Committee, where the bill will need to be considered and approved before moving to the Pennsylvania Senate floor for consideration. Those interested in reviewing the proposed legislation can do so here.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the proposed legislation or the requirements for prescribing opioids, please contact any of Houston Harbaugh’s health care attorneys.

To learn more about our health law attorneys and the services we provide to healthcare providers, visit our Health Care Law Practice page.

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