Starting this week pharmacies in Montana will need to see identification from patients picking up prescriptions for opioid painkillers like hydrocodone or oxycodone.
A driver’s license, tribal ID card or a school ID with a photo will work. The mandatory ID checks at pharmacies are just one part of a 2019 state law intended to curb opioid addiction in Montana.
Jon Bennion, Montana’s chief deputy attorney general, says the law aims to prevent opioid addictions that can start from getting a painkiller prescription following surgery.
“Many of these measures have been enacted by other states and they are just consistent with best practices,” Bennion said.
With the new law, Montana joins more than 30 other states who have put in place guidelines to limit the supply of opioid painkillers that can be prescribed by doctors.
The policy took effect October 1. It also requires doctors to look up a patient’s history before issuing any opioid prescriptions. And it limits first-time users of opioid medications to a seven-day supply.
Montana lawmakers passed the bill, requested by Attorney General Tim Fox, during the legislative session in March.
Supporters of these opioid limits say that they help prevent excess pills from being diverted for illegal use. But opponents argue that opioid limits could lead those with addictions to turn to other drugs, including heroin.
Between 2015 and 2017, 86 Montana residents died from an opioid overdose, according to the state health department.
Although the rate of opioid prescriptions being issued in Montana has gone down in recent years, in 2017 Montana providers still wrote more than 60 opioid prescriptions for every 100 Montana residents. That’s slightly higher than the U.S. average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Montana received nearly $4 million from the federal government for opioid and other substance abuse treatment in August and Gov. Steve Bullock is set to release a report Wednesday with new data on Montana’s fight against opioid abuse.