What’s Being Done to Stop It

Opioids are a kind of drug that is used to relieve pain. They can be prescribed by doctors, but many patients are becoming addicted, turning to the streets to buy them. Types of opioids—both legal and illegal—include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin
  • Hydrocodone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone

Opioid abuse has become a serious issue in Maryland. It has forced Governor Larry Hogan to declare a state of emergency in response to the opioid problem that is “ravaging communities in Maryland and across the country.”

“We need to treat this crisis the exact same way we would treat any other state emergency,” Hogan stated. “This is about taking an all-hands-on-deck approach so that together we can save the lives of thousands of Marylanders.”

In 2015, 1,259 total deaths occurred from alcohol and drug intoxication in Maryland. Of those, 86 percent died because of opioids. In fact, opioid overdoses are now at the top of the list of things people die from in Maryland (next to cancer, stroke and heart attack).

As the percentage of opioid deaths continues to climb, officials in Maryland have passed bills to help those living with an opioid addiction, including the Start Talking Maryland Act and the HOPE Act.

The Start Talking Maryland Act 

This law ensures that kids learn about the serious dangers of opioids in schools through educational programs.

The HOPE Act

This law will:

  • Force the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) to create a special treatment center for people with an addiction before June 2018
  • Give people more access to naloxone, a special drug that reverses an opioid overdose
  • Give people who provide health services to the community money for the next three years under a provision called Keep the Door Open
  • Make hospitals create new rules for how they treat people with an addition when they leave hospital care

Other opioid-related bills passed include:

  • HB1432, which places a limit on the number of opioid painkillers a doctor can give to a patient per visit
  • SB539, which is a law that sets new punishments for distributing fentanyl

How is Jai Medical Systems helping?

In keeping with the rules set by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), we are starting a new “prior authorization requirement” for certain types, strengths and combinations of pain medications.

Patients will need to complete and submit an Analgesic Opioid Prior Authorization Form before they can be approved for a new prescription for the following:

  • A fentanyl patch
  • A long-acting opioid
  • A quantity of opioids totaling more than 90 MME per day (including cumulative amounts of medications totaling more than 90 MME)
  • Methadone for pain

Patients with an existing prescription for these medications must also complete the form before July 1, 2017. The form can be found here.

Opioid Crisis Update

The Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis was recently created when President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (a statement from the president about how federal agencies use their money and time). The Commission’s job is to figure out ways to treat drug abuse, addiction and the use of opioids.

“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now: It is an emergency. It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot [of] effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.” stated President Trump. He also told his administration to “use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis.”

Opioid addiction is still a very serious problem in the United States. This is especially true for Maryland, where the number of people dying due to drug and alcohol issues has multiplied greatly since 2010. In fact, the overdoses in Baltimore alone made up over a third of the overdoses for the state in 2016, resulting in 694 deaths. The highest number of these deaths is because of heroin mixed with fentanyl (most of the time without the heroin user knowing it), which is far more deadly than either drug by itself.

To start dealing with the crisis in Maryland and throughout the United States, the Commission has suggested changing some of the rules in Medicaid, such as making naloxone (a drug to reverse opioid overdose) more available. Officials in Maryland have also taken steps to fix the problem, including creating phone hotlines for people to call for treatment and making naloxone available without needing training or a prescription.

More changes will likely come over time to help get the opioid problem under control in Maryland and across the country.

If you or someone you know is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, please contact Jai Medical Systems today for more information on how to get help.  If you see someone who you think may be experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately.