Bill Aims To Reduce Excess Opioids, Address Crisis In State

By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4)– A bipartisan bill to help address Colorado’s opioid crisis passed out of a senate committee Thursday and is expected to go before the full state Senate for a vote early next week.

State lawmakers hope the proposal will take excess opioids off the market while at the same time giving doctors more freedom to treat their patients.

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The bill’s sponsors attribute a part of the state’s opioid addiction problem to the availability of excess prescription narcotics in the home.

“We heard many people talk about going in and getting say a knee surgery done and being given a prescription for 100 pills, I actually had a friend who had an endoscopy done and she was sent home with three liters of liquid Vicodin and she’s like, ‘I’m not even going to take this,'” said Irene Aguilar, a Democrat representing Denver.

Sen. Irene Aguilar (D) Denver (credit: CBS)

Aguilar is not only a co-sponsor of the bill but spent 22 years as a primary care physician at Denver Health Medical Center.

She and other doctors hope is that this bill would encourage physicians to be less automatic as they hand out narcotic prescriptions and limit the amount they can prescribe, with some exceptions, to just seven days with one refill.

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“There are some who just by habit, after a procedure for instance would prescribe a certain amount and all this does is make sure you think twice about how much you’re providing, what is the true need so we don’t have extra sitting in medicine cabinets,” said Scott Bainbridge, M.D. a member of the Colorado Pain Society.

Scott Bainbridge M.D (credit: CBS)

The bill would also allow doctors to send these prescriptions electronically to pharmacies. One reason doctors tend to over-prescribe is to limit the need for a patient to pay a co-pay for a follow up appointment.

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Aguilar and Bainbridge hope the bill not only limits supply, but also provides a platform to further educate each of us of the causes of the crisis.

“We need people to realize is that it may not give you a problem to take a narcotic now and again, but by sharing it with people or leaving it around, it may end up reaching somebody who then develops an addiction or problem with it,” said Aguilar.

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.