The national opioid crisis has extended to Iowa. In 2015, there were 59 opioid overdose deaths and 163 opioid-related deaths in our state. These numbers rose to 86 overdose deaths and 180 opioid-related deaths in 2016. To help address this national problem, a bill relating to opioid abuse passed the House and Senate this year.

Included in the bill is the expansion of the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), which allows authorized prescribers and pharmacists to view information about their patients’ use of controlled substances. This is a tool used in determining appropriate prescribing and treatment of patients without fear of contributing to a patient’s abuse of or dependence on addictive drugs or diversion to illegal drugs.

The bill, House File 2377, also mandates that prescribing practitioners and first responders utilize the PMP. Practitioners are to use the PMP when they prescribe controlled substances and first responders when they administer opioid antagonists, like naloxone, to patients.

It also directs the Board of Pharmacy to issue a report to each prescribing practitioner that includes a summary of the practitioner’s history of prescribing controlled substances; a comparison to other practitioner’s prescribing activities, and educational updates. The Board will also identify patients who are at risk for potentially abusing or misusing prescription controlled substances and notifying the practitioners of the risk.

Finally, the bill includes Good Samaritan language that provides certain protections to those who seek treatment for a drug-related overdose or a person who seeks treatment for another person who is experiencing a drug-related overdose. This provision gives these individuals certain protections against being prosecuted or arrested, with some exceptions.

This bill was sent to the Governor for her signature, and if signed, will go into effect on July 1, 2018.