SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers Monday moved forward a pair of bills requiring extra warnings to patients about the risk of addiction associated with opioids.
Under HB399, whenever a pharmacist provides a patient an opioid that is either federally designated at a Schedule II or Schedule III substance, they would be required to include a caution on the container stating "Caution: Opioid. Risk of overdose and addiction" or an alternative warning approved by the state Department of Health.
Under HB400, a prescriber is required "to discuss the risks of using an opiate with a patient or the patient's guardian before issuing an initial opiate prescription," according to a summary attached to the bill.
Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, is the sponsor of both bills.
HB399 was approved unanimously Monday by the House Health and Human Services Committee.
"Basically, this is about patient education," Eliason said of the measure.
The committee opted to amend HB400 by removing exemptions it made for instances where the patient being prescribed opioids was undergoing cancer treatment, in hospice treatment or being prescribed "a medication … for the treatment of the patient's substance abuse or opiate dependence."
Rep. Michael Kennedy, R-Alpine, said he opposes the bill because he believes it goes too far in micromanaging the best practices of Utah doctors, who he said have been receiving training on helping patients avoid opioid addiction for some time.
Kennedy also believes the bill will not be more motivating than the terrible prospect of a doctor discovering it was their own prescribed opioids that a patient overdosed with.
"I can think of fewer professional things that would make me more appalled … in my practice" than finding that out, and that is motivation enough, Kennedy said.
Eliason said he wouldn't have sought HB400 if he believed that doctors' education of patients' risk for opioid addiction "was effectively happening.”
"Given the number of fatalities and our trend, I don't feel that we're doing enough," Eliason said.
The committee voted 10-2 to approve HB400, with Kennedy and Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, being the dissenting votes.
Both HB399 and HB400 will next be heard in the full House of Representatives.