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Utah House OKs bill to require medical professionals to discuss opioids with patients before prescribing

FILE - This Aug. 29, 2018 photo shows an arrangement of prescription Oxycodone pills in New York. In a report released on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, health officials are looking into a possible link between prescription opioids and a birth defect called gas
FILE - This Aug. 29, 2018 photo shows an arrangement of prescription Oxycodone pills in New York. The Utah House voted favorably on HB191, which would require physicians to discuss the risks of addiction, dangers of mixing opioid medication with other substances, reasons why the prescription may be necessary and other options with patients.
Mark Lennihan

SALT LAKE CITY — The House approved unanimously HB191, which would require physicians or nurse practitioners to discuss the risks of addiction, dangers of mixing opioid medication with other substances, reasons why the prescription may be necessary and other options for treatment with their patients when prescribing opioids.

"Last year we had 360 deaths resulting from overdoses, our goal is to continually drive that number lower," said Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, who is sponsoring the bill.

Eliason said a doctor prescribed an opioid recently for his son and there was no discussion of the risk of addiction or alternative options. His son questioned if he should take the entire bottle since that is what the doctor prescribed.

READ MORE: The Hidden Plague: Utah's opioid epidemic

Eliason also talked about a constituent recovering from an addiction after receiving an opioid prescription from a dentist who did not talk to the patient or his mother about the medication.

"This bill is simply meant to enhance the discussion that happens between a physician or nurse practitioner prescribing an opioid and with a patient," Eliason said.

Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, noting that the bill does not have any enforcement mechanism, commented that it is the right way to raise awareness.

"As we move into the future, having something like this in place lets the rest of the medical establishment take that line and let them put in place the rules and the procedures to bring it forward," Ward said.

According to Eliason, 80 percent of the Utahns who die from an overdose started their addiction with a prescription opioid. The purpose of this bill is to prevent people from getting addicted.

The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.