SD Senate panel passes bills to prevent prescription drug abuse

The bill would require pharmacists to report daily, rather than weekly, about the prescriptions for controlled substances they've dispensed

By James Nord
Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. — A bill that would require people who prescribe or dispense controlled substances to register with South Dakota's prescription drug monitoring program advanced easily Wednesday through a Senate panel as part of a package of measures meant to prevent opiate abuse.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously to approve the bill, which also would require pharmacists to report daily, rather than weekly, about the prescriptions for controlled substances they've dispensed.

Republican Sen. Jim White, who sponsored the measures, said the goal is to get providers that prescribe opioids to become members of the program. Right now, 60 percent of prescribers and 90 percent of pharmacists are registered, said Kari Shanard-Koenders, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Pharmacy.

The program was established in 2010 to improve patient care by giving doctors and pharmacists access to a drug-dispensing history for the patients they treat. The monitoring program works as a "key tool" to help curb drug abuse, Department of Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said, adding that officials want to continuously improve the program and make it easier for prescribers to use.

"We can have the best things in the world, and if we don't use them, they're not all that valuable," Malsam-Rysdon said.

The proposals debated Wednesday came from a legislative study committee that examined opioid and methamphetamine abuse. In 2015, there were 710,000 prescriptions written in South Dakota for opioids, which totaled over 49 million pills, according the study committee's final report.

A second bill sent to the chamber's floor would require the Board of Pharmacy to report annually to lawmakers the number of opioid prescriptions in South Dakota from the past three years and any changes made to the drug monitoring program.

Lawmakers on the committee tabled two bills, including one that would have required prescribers to review patients' drug records through the program before handing out prescriptions for controlled substances.

Chris Dietrich, a doctor who represented the South Dakota State Medical Association on a different state prescription opioid abuse group, said that making prescribers review the patient records would be incredibly onerous without fully solving drug abuse problems. He also said the requirement would take time away from patient interaction, teaching students and working and communicating with staff.

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