January 29, 2016

Senate Committee Begins Hearing Testimony On Opiate Abuse Bills

Print More

Montpelier (Jan 27): The Senate Committee on Health and Welfare began hearing testimony on Wednesday about two bills recently introduced that aim to fight Vermont’s opiate abuse issue. Senators Sirotkin (D- South Burlington) and Ashe (D- Burlington) and Senator Nitka (D- Ludlow) introduced Bills S.243 and S.201, respectively. 

If passed, S.243 would significantly increase the amount of steps doctors must take before prescribing opiates to patients and also increase the amount of physicians in Vermont who can prescribe buprenorphine to patients with substance abuse disorders. S.201 would increase regulations of prescribing opiates, including banning refills of opiates in the state. 

Senator Sirotkin testified that S.243 came about after a town meeting in Richmond called by citizens where multiple people spoke about how the problem has affected their community. He said the citizens were not angry, but were concerned and felt like they “needed to help”.  Senator Ashe said that while effects of this crisis were not previously felt in smaller towns in Vermont, they now are. “This bill is meant to be a bill on best thinking. It will update the bill passed two years ago,” he said. 

The Committee also heard from the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health Dr. Harry Chen, Dr. Carlos Pino, the Director of Pain Medicine at the University of Vermont Medical Center, Dr. MarkDepman, Medical Director of the Central Vermont Medical Center and Dr. David Coddaire, Medical Director of Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley. 

Key themes from Wednesday’s testimony included updating the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System to include real time data, establishing a prescription drug disposal program, and increasing the education required for doctors, pharmacists and patients. 

The Committee will continue to hear testimony on Thursday morning. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *