Georgia Senate backs effort to curtail the overprescribing of opioids

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Georgia Senate backs effort to curtail the overprescribing of opioids

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Phil Galewitz
Drug manufacturers and distributors have pumped prescription opioid painkillers into rural America. (Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health News/TNS)

A measure requiring doctors to log into a pill-tracking database before prescribing painkillers and other high-risk drugs won unanimously approval Wednesday from the Georgia Senate, as supporters have said the effort would help curtail the overprescribing of opioids.

House Bill 249, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, comes as a compromise between doctors’ groups and those who wanted stricter measures. Changes to the bill mean doctors are not restricted in writing prescriptions for the drugs. And they would be allowed to delegate the ability to check the database to physician assistants.

Other exemptions include for outpatient surgery, allowing doctors to prescribe up to a ten-day supply of opioids in such instances without referencing the database.

Among those calling for stricter measures to reduce abuse of opioids include former CDC Director Tom Frieden, who has questioned broad exemptions that he says will not likely reduce risk of addiction. Groups including the Medical Association of Georgia have called the bill a good first step.

Because a Senate committee made changes to the bill, it now heads back to the state House for review.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will again have Georgia’s largest team covering the Legislature. Get complete daily coverage during the legislative session at myAJC.com/georgialegislature.
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