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Maryland Moves to Limit Opioid Painkillers

Maryland Moves to Limit Opioid Painkillers

A sign for a Baltimore overdose reversal program. To stem the death toll in the opioid epidemic, Maryland has joined other states and the federal government in limiting prescriptions of opioid painkillers and promoting greater use of the overdose rescue drug naloxone.

© The Pew Charitable Trusts

Maryland may soon join a growing list of states that have limited the number of highly addictive opioid painkillers a doctor can prescribe to patients on their first visit or consultation.

In a package of legislation designed to quell the state’s raging drug overdose epidemic, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan this week proposed legislation that would limit initial prescriptions for opioids such as Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin to a seven-day supply.

Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended all prescribers of opioid painkillers limit initial prescriptions, except for patients with cancer or those suffering pain at the end of life.

Other states are tightening surveillance of prescription drugs to prevent patients from receiving painkillers and other highly addictive drugs from more than one health care provider.

Hogan also proposed legislation that would make it easier to distribute the potentially life-saving opioid overdose antidote, naloxone, and called for new felony charges carrying up to 30 years in prison for people convicted of illegally selling opioids that result in the death of a user. The new drug law would include protections for people who sell to support their addiction.

Hogan’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget includes $4 million in new spending to increase treatment and support services for people with heroin and opioid addictions, as well as $1.3 billion for mental health and substance use disorders.

He is also slated to sign an executive order creating an Opioid Operations Command Center to train and fund local anti-addiction teams, and collect data on opioid use and abuse.

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