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My Patient Rights reminds Californians of new law to combat opioid crisis


Last updated 2/8/2019 at 5:11am

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SACRAMENTO – My Patient Rights and the California Chronic Care Coalition reminded Californians of a new law that takes another step in addressing the opioid crisis. The law requires that prescribers of pain-relieving opioids must also offer a prescription for the opioid-overdose reversal drug, naloxone, to high-risk patients. Assembly Bill 2760 was passed by the California Legislature and signed into law in September 2018 by former Gov. Jerry Brown.

Accidental opioid overdoses account for about 80 percent of all opioid emergencies, and 83 percent of prescription opioid-related deaths are unintended or accidental. While anyone taking opioids is at potential risk for an overdose, there are certain high-level, at-risk groups that are susceptible, so being prepared with the overdose reversal drug, naloxone, in close proximity is essential.

The U.S. Surgeon General issued its first advisory in 13 years recommending emergency treatments like naloxone be available for consumer use.

"For patients with chronic illness, pain-relieving opioids are a lifeline but the risk of an overdose increases the more you take to combat the pain," Liz Helms, president and CEO of the California Chronic Care Coalition, said. "Requiring naloxone to be offered at the same time as prescribing an opioid pain medication will go a long way in preventing accidental overdoses and needless deaths. And since many caregivers are family members, it is important to make them aware that this potentially life-saving emergency treatment will be more readily available when opioids are prescribed."

There are many reasons for accidental opioid overdose emergencies, and these emergencies can occur even when opioids are used as directed. Those at high risk for accidental opioid overdose include those who take moderate to high doses of prescription opioids, usually over 90 morphine milligram equivalents a day; those who consume certain other sedating medications or alcohol, particularly benzodiazepines; those who have a history of substance abuse or previous overdose and those who have children, other family, friends and loved ones who have access to unlocked or unsecured prescription opioids.

In 2016, more than 214 million prescriptions were written and filled for opioids.

"Naloxone is a tool that can immediately save lives. And I hope this new law will provide an opportunity for discussion of the potential for accidental opioid overdose and how to prevent it," Assemblymember Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, author of AB 2760, said.

Anyone who uses opioids for pain control is at risk for an opioid overdose emergency. Be prepared for the unexpected by talking about opioids, the potential for overdose even when used correctly, having naloxone with you and recognizing the signs of overdose, including slow or shallow breathing, slowed heartbeat and weak pulse, a loss of consciousness or pale, blue or cold skin.

My Patient Rights was launched by the California Chronic Care Coalition to help people who have been denied treatment or medicines, experienced delays or are dissatisfied with the decisions made by their health plan.

The California Chronic Care Coalition is an alliance of more than 30 leading consumer health organizations and provider groups that engage policy makers, industry leaders, providers and consumers to improve the health of Californians with chronic conditions.

Submitted by California Chronic Care Coalition.


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