Opioid Stewardship Bill Still in Conference Committee

What appeared to be a certainty weeks ago, now appears in question. The opioid stewardship bill went into a conference committee in early April so legislators from both bodies could work out an agreement on final legislation. The group, however, is deadlocked on how the fee will be assessed and when it should sunset.  

The Senate bill includes language to lower the increased application fee the bill levies on manufacturers should the state receives $20 million or more via a settlement in the lawsuit that the Attorney General has brought against opioid manufacturers. The House bill does not contain such a sunset.  

Both bills hope to raise $20 million by assessing an increased license fee on pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors who sell their products in the state. Revenue raised under the bill would be used to expand treatment services, fund education for consumers and prescribers, support education efforts regarding opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose, and help offset the escalating cost of opioid abuse absorbed by county and tribal child protective services.  

Of note, the bills include several provisions that will impact prescribers. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill contain mandates that prescribers must complete two hours of CME about best practices in opioid prescribing and non-pharmacologic treatment for pain. Both versions also sunset this provision. 

In addition, both bills include a seven-day limit on the number of opioids that can be prescribed for acute pain treatment. Importantly, this provision does allow physicians to deviate from the dose limit if it is in their professional, clinical judgement. Also, on the table for conferees is a requirement that the Prescription Monitoring Program be checked before prescribing controlled substances. Several exceptions, including post-surgical pain, hospice, cancer-related pain, and other instances are included.  

For more details on the two bills, click here