hopeState lawmakers are being asked to go after one of the root causes of heroin addiction in Wisconsin.

Testifying at the Capitol Wednesday, state Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) said the latest bills in his HOPE agenda are intended to stop heroin abuse before it begins, by limiting unlawful access to prescription painkillers. Nygren said “these proposals will help doctors and pharmacists stay on top of their prescribing and dispensing practices, identify patients who might doctor shopping, and ultimately reduce the number of Wisconsinites who become addicted to prescription opiates.”

It’s estimated nearly 70 percent of heroin addicts started by abusing prescription opiates. Attorney General Brad Schimel said that makes the issue a major health concern for the state, due to the fact that drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the state.

The package of bills would require pharmacists to notify the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program within 24 hours of dispensing medications – something they’re currently only required to do within seven days. Other measures would make it easier for police to find information about prescription drugs at crime scenes and create state registries for pain clinics and methadone clinics.

The bills are a follow-up to a package legislation Nygren backed last session, which was designed to help target a statewide epidemic of heroin addiction.

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