On Thursday, the House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive bill to crack down on the West Virginia opioid epidemic.
Senate Bill 273 would limit the initial amount of opioid drugs that can be prescribed at a time to most patients, and would require a practitioner to reassess the patient before writing additional prescriptions.
The bill was originally proposed by Governor Jim Justice.
The bill would limit opioid prescriptions for adults visiting an emergency room or urgent care facility to a four-day supply, three days for patients visiting dentists or optometrists, and seven days for people being treated by primary care doctors.
For minors, prescriptions would also start as a three day supply.
The bill does not place dosage limits on cancer patients, long-term care facility patients, or those receiving hospice care from a licensed hospice or palliative care provider. The bill also requires prescribers to check with the Controlled Substances Monitoring Program Database.
It would allow for additional prescriptions if the medical provider finds it necessary and appropriate. However, everything will have to be documented, including the doctor’s opinion that the subsequent prescription would not pose a risk of abuse or addiction.
Senate Bill 273 passed on a 97-1 vote. It now goes back to the Senate to approve House changes to the bill before it can be sent to the Governor for his signature.