New Laws Change Prescribing Practice for Pain-relieving Medications

In response to dramatic increases in opioid overdoses and deaths, several new laws covering opioid and controlled substance prescribing in Michigan take effect on June 1. The laws are aimed at preventing harm occurring as a result of controlled substance and opioid use or abuse. Patients receiving pain-relieving medications at medical offices and pharmacies across the state, including Sindecuse Health Center, will be affected.

Jim Middleton, Sindecuse Health Center pharmacy director, notes the changes some patients will experience.  “Opioids such as Norco, Percodan, Oxycontin, and even cough syrups containing codeine will now have added regulations. The most noticeable changes require a face-to-face conversation between the patient and prescribing clinician, along with a signed consent for each new opioid prescription. The law also sets a seven-day supply limit for acute pain treatment, with some insurance companies further restricting limits to less than a week.” Middleton notes that previous practice of refill-by-phone will no longer be possible for opioids.

The changes in the law impact prescribers and pharmacies behind-the-scenes as well, and may extend processing times for all controlled-substance prescriptions. Middleton says “with the widely reported consequences of overuse and overdoses, it is no surprise that Michigan intends to tightly enforce these new laws.  The Sindecuse clinicians are updating their procedures to reflect the new laws, and the pharmacy will continue to review and process these prescriptions as efficiently as the regulations permit.”

Patients with questions about how the new laws affect their care may contact the Sindecuse pharmacy at (269) 387-3355.