Starting this week, a new law aimed at curbing Nevada’s growing opioid crisis will require doctors to educate patients about the risks of using the drugs. It will also limit how much medication can be given for each prescription.
Unanimously passed by lawmakers and signed by the Governor earlier this year, the Controlled Substance Abuse Prevention Act went into effect January 1.
Essentially, the law will now require doctors to highlight the inherent risks associated with taking prescription opioids like oxycodone, codeine and morphine.
"There's absolutely a need for these medications when they are medically necessary and clinically appropriate, but we also realize that there are real risks and those need to be mitigated and managed as much as possible," says Stephanie Woodard, a clinical psychologist with the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health.
The measure also provides a plan for how doctors can prescribe the medication.
For first time patients with acute pain, prescribers can only write a prescription for 14-days with one refill available.
If a doctor deems it medically necessary to prescribe the medication for a longer period of time, they will be required to go through additional hoops. Those include providing an evidence-based diagnosis, entering into a Prescription Medication Agreement with the patient, completing a risk of abuse assessment and reviewing the patient's Prescription Drug Monitoring report every 90 days during treatment.
To top it off, doctors will no longer be able to write prescriptions for longer than a year.
"No patient should receive any more than 365 days’ worth of a medication in any rolling 365 day period," says Elyse Monroy, a political analyst with the Governor’s office who helped draft the legislation.
Nevada is among 17 states that have enacted similar legislation in recent years.