Senate approves bills to battle heroin, opiate abuse in Wis.

Doctors, law enforcement to be required to report to drug monitoring database

Wisconsin is trying to crack down on heroin and prescription drug abuse in the state.

The four bills passed Wednesday night in the Senate are part of what’s being called the HOPE agenda, which stands for heroin, opiate prevention and education.

Two of those bills involve using a statewide database to more closely monitor prescription drugs with the potential for abuse.

Assembly Bill 364 would require doctors to consult a statewide database whenever they write or refill a prescription drug with the potential for abuse.

“I think it’s definitely going to help reduce chances of addiction to heroin, addiction to painkillers,” Al Bliss, health educator and co-chair of the La Crosse County Illicit Drug and Heroin Task Force, said.

In the past, only pharmacists were required to check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database, but now it will be all prescribers as well.

The database would alert the prescribing physician if they have a patient who is going doctor to doctor in search of more meds.

Family physician at the Mayo Clinic Dr. Cheri Olson said although checking the database will be time-consuming for doctors, it’s worth it to help put an end to prescription drug abuse.

“Providing this excellent database that we can access and have more information when we’re thinking about prescribing opioids, it’s just a good practice, it’s just a good thing for us to be doing, it’s a good thing for us to be part of, being the solution for our communities,” Olson said.

Under the bill, doctors will also be required to report they’ve filled or written a prescription within about 24 hours. In the past that window used to be a week.

The bill is not expected to take effect until April, 2017.

Assembly Bill 365 would require law enforcement in Wisconsin to report to the database when they find evidence of prescription drugs being abused or stolen.

Bliss said this would then alert prescribers of potential opiate abuse with a patient. He said this bill is important because law enforcement deals with these types of calls often.

“Because in our area, behind alcohol, marijuana and then meth comes prescription drug arrests, those are some of the highest numbers for other drug arrests,” Bliss said.

Assembly Bill 366 would require pain clinics in the state to be certified by the state Department of Health, and Assembly Bill 367 would require treatment facilities that use methadone to report certain information to the state, such as relapse rates.