Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Legislative Alert: Urge Legislators to Oppose Bill that would Require Medical Board Investigations for Prescription Drug Deaths

On June 26, the Assembly Business and Professions Committee will be considering a bill that would require a coroner to file a report with the medical board when a controlled substance is found to be a contributing factor in a death.

While well-intentioned, SB 62 simplifies a very complicated issue to the potential detriment of patients. CMA is urging physicians to contact their assembly members today and ask them to oppose this flawed bill.

Click "take action" below to quickly and easily contact your legislator via CMA's grassroots action center.

 Call (877) 362-8455 to be connected with your legislator

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Description

SB 62 (Price) would expand provisions to require a coroner to file a report with the Medical Board of California when he or she determines that a Schedule II, III, or IV drug was a contributing factor in a death.

Senator Price's stated assumption that a coroner’s report connects the dots between overdose deaths and so-called physician over-prescribing is fundamentally flawed.

This bill is a response to growing concern about prescription drug abuse, an issue that is of great concern to CMA and physicians across the state. However, the statistics show that the vast majority of people who abuse prescription drugs acquire them from friends and family (often without their knowledge) or from sources other than the prescriber. There are also many circumstances in which individuals with legitimate prescriptions for controlled substances might die, including non-compliance with prescriber's orders or mixing the drugs with other substances like illicit drugs or alcohol.

As currently written, this bill would make it increasingly more difficult for patients being treated for pain to get appropriate treatment, as physicians will become less likely to prescribe controlled substances for fear of a medical board investigation.
CMA has requested an amendment to the bill that would require the medical board to notify a physician when a report with his/her name is received. This amendment would help provide some balance by providing physicians the opportunity to seek ongoing education on opioid prescribing or identify fraudulent activity being done in their name, but the author has refused to accept it.

We ask that you and your colleagues
call, fax or email your legislators
TODAY and ask for a NO vote on this bill

The bill is expected to be heard in the Assembly Business and Professions Committee this week.

Phone calls and office visits are most effective, but faxes and emails are important too. If you choose to fax or email your legislators, we strongly encourage that you personalize the letter (provided below), which will greatly increase its impact.

If you are logged into the CMA website, your legislators should automatically be displayed. If not, you can click here to locate your legislators by zip code.

Talking points, a sample email, and background information are below.

Talking Points

  • As a physician, I am very concerned about the growth in prescription drug abuse and want to be a partner in addressing it, but SB 62 is an approach that will have significant unintended consequences.
  •  The reports being required under SB 62 will make physicians less likely to prescribe drugs on Schedule II, III, and IV for fear of investigation even in instances when the care is appropriate. Doing so will impact patient’s ability to get appropriate pain management.
  • There are many circumstances in which a person with a legitimate prescription for a controlled substance may die, including the patient being non-compliant with the prescriber’s orders or mixing the drugs with other substances like illicit drugs or alcohol.
  • Patients being treated for pain may also have comorbities that could result in death. None of these instances reflect inappropriate practice by a physician and yet all of them could be reported to the Medical Board for investigation under SB 62.
  • Further, the vast majority of people (70%) who use drugs for non-medical purposes did not get it from a prescriber, but from other sources.
  •  The risk of negatively impacting patient care must be balanced with the potential benefit. Given all the extenuating factors that exist in assessing overdoses related to controlled substances, SB 62 is not balanced.
  • CMA has requested an amendment to the bill that would require the medical board to notify a physician when a report with his/her name is received. This amendment would help provide some balance by providing physicians an opportunity to seek ongoing education on opioid prescribing or identify fraudulent activity being done in their name, but the author has refused to accept it.
  •  I urge Assembly-member ____________ to vote no on SB 62 unless the requested amendment is taken.

 



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