MTPR

Bozeman Lawmaker Dropping Proposal To Restrict Opioid Prescriptions

Feb 21, 2017

The sponsor of a bill that would mandate limits on opioid prescriptions in Montana now says he’s willing to abandon that idea at the request of physicians in the state.

Bozeman Democratic Representative Zach Brown originally wanted to turn a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into Montana law. That recommendation is that doctors limit prescriptions of opioid painkillers to new patients to just a one-week supply. The idea is that limiting the number of pills in patients’ possession would reduce the number falling into the hands of abusers. On Monday Brown said painkiller abuse is epidemic here.

"In Montana, between 2012 and 2013, 369 people died from opioid overdoses, and accounted for more than 7,200 in-patient admissions at hospitals," Brown told a House committee Monday. 

Pain specialists at Benefis hospital in Great Falls testified in favor of painkiller prescription limits, but Billings Clinic and the Montana Medical Association oppose the idea. They say lawmakers should not tell doctors how to practice medicine.

By the end of the initial hearing on his bill, Representative Brown said he’s willing to amend it to eliminate a mandate on how many pills can be prescribed and instead offer the one-week limit as a recommendation. But he and the Medical Association want a requirement to track patients who get more than a week’s supply.