Over the last few years, more than 30 states have passed laws to further regulate opioid prescriptions as attitudes surrounding pain management continue to evolve. While the public is only now catching up to efforts the workers’ comp industry has advocated for nearly a decade, within the last month alone, five more states have passed opioid prescribing limits across the country.
Tennessee enrolled House Bill 1831, limiting treatment with opioids to a three-day supply, with a dosage limitation of 180 morphine milligram equivalent (MME), with exceptions for certain conditions such as cancer pain, severe trauma, burns and more. Meanwhile, Colorado enrolled Senate Bill 22 the same day, limiting initial opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply, with exceptions for cancer pain, post-surgical pain expected to last more than 14 days, and more.
South Carolina enrolled Senate Bill 918, limiting initial opioid prescriptions for acute or postoperative pain management to a seven-day supply, with exceptions, while Oklahoma Senate Bill 1446 limited initial opioid prescriptions in the acute phase to a seven-day supply of immediate-release opioids, which must be at the lowest effective dose possible.
Hawaii Senate Bill 2244 adopted a written policy for an informed-consent process that must occur prior to prescribing opioids to injured workers. The bill also limits initial concurrent prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepines to no longer than seven days, unless reasonably necessary for the treatment of certain conditions.
This momentum is likely to continue in the near future as more states consider similar legislation. Recently, Pennsylvania proposed Senate Bill 1187, which would require the development of prescription guidelines for opioids and other drugs. This bill specifies that such guidelines would be required to appropriately limit the type, dosage and duration of pain medication prescriptions the department recognizes as potentially addictive.