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New state opioid prescription regulations to limit access to drugs

Delaware Public Media

State officials are trying to tighten down regulations controlling how - and how often - Delaware doctors can prescribe opioid painkillers.


The goal, they say, is to help prevent addiction issues among Delawareans by limiting access to these drugs on the front end, tackling a problem that sees someone die in the state every two days on average from an opioid overdose.


It also dovetails with new guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


A new proposal released Wednesday would only allow health care providers to prescribe a seven-day supply for short-term injuries.


Doctors would have to check a patient’s drug history in a state database for any prescription lasting longer than seven days, as well as warn them about the potential for addiction. Alternatives would also be discussed during the consultation.


Any chronic pain sufferers consistently refilling their prescriptions would need to submit a urine sample at least twice a year, says David Mangler, the director of the Division of Professional Regulation.


He says it’s a chance for doctors to make sure the drugs interact well with any other prescription the patient is taking, as well as help ensure the patient isn’t selling their pills.


“The other is to make sure that what’s being prescribed is actually being taken. So it’s more of the use to make sure that we have patients that aren’t getting prescriptions and doing something that are misusing the prescriptions,” Mangler said.


Under current regulations, there is no oversight for dentists and podiatrists who are able to prescribe these opioid painkillers, but all prescribers would be included in the proposal.


Public comment is still being taken on the proposal through the end of May, though no further hearings will be conducted.


If approved, Mangler says they could be enacted as early as July 1.