More legislation is being proposed to help combat opiate addictions in Wisconsin. Lawmakers are introducing four bills, as a follow-up to a package of seven bills – the Heroin, Opiate Prevention and Education (HOPE) initiative – passed unanimously by the legislature and signed into law last year.
“It’s not okay to just maintain the status quo, there is much more work to do,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel during a Capitol press conference on Tuesday. State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) – whose daughter has struggled with addiction – was author of the HOPE legislation and is taking the lead on the new bills.
“There is a legitimate use for opiates in our society,” Nygren said. “We are not looking to limit that access. We are looking to limit illegal access or addiction from taking place.”
One bill would require that pharmacists notify the state’s existing Prescription Drug Monitoring Program within 24 hours of dispensing medications – something they’re currently only required to do within seven days. Another bill would open up communications between police and doctors.
“When law enforcement finds a prescription at the scene of a drug crime or overdose, they will be required to enter that information in the prescription drug monitoring website, and also to notify the physician,” said Nygren, who is working on the measure with Representative Debra Kolste (D-Janesville).
Two additional bills would create state registries for pain clinics and methadone clinics. “Methadone is an addictive drug that is used to treat heroin and opiate addiction,” Nygren said. “Used with the right follow-through it can be successful, but there’s not a lot of follow-through it can be successful. But there’s not a lot of information known about how these methadone clinics are currently practicing.”