'A bill that will save lives': State Senate approves opioid impact fee

This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

Patrick Sison

In the 12 months since the Department of State enacted stricter regulations on the prescribing of opioids, the number of those kinds of prescriptions have dropped significantly in Delaware, according to state officials. 

According to statistics provided by the Division of Professional Regulation since the enactment of new regulations on April 1, 2017, 14 percent fewer opioid prescriptions were issued by Delaware practitioners licensed to prescribe those controlled substances from the first quarter of 2018 compared to the previous year. An 18 percent decline was also noted for the total quantity of opioids dispensed during that same period. 

“The opioid epidemic continues to ravage families across our state and our nation, but numbers like these show that the public policies we have put in place are having a positive impact,” said Gov. John Carney. “Health care practitioners in Delaware are partners in the shared effort to overcome this crisis, and we are seeing the results of changes in prescribing practices that will, without question, save lives across our state.”

The new regulations were aimed at controlling the amount of opioids prescribed to new patients, aggressively monitoring patients undergoing treatment for which opioids were prescribed, limiting the supply prescribed and provided during treatment, and including a physical exam during treatment. 

“This is very good news. We hoped when we saw the first drop in opioid prescriptions after the new, more stringent regulations went into effect that those numbers would hold. This new report shows that they have not only held but improved,” said Attorney General Matt Denn. “This is further evidence that the Delaware regulations strike a good balance between making opioid drugs available to those who need them, and ensuring that they are prescribed in a responsible way and with appropriate monitoring and follow-up. Secretary Bullock deserves a lot of credit for investing the time to implement these new regulations, which will save lives.”

So far, this year, 71 Delawareans have died from overdoses.  The state will have continued assistance on a federal level following the announcement from officials with the US. Department of Health and Human Services that Delawware would receive an additional $2 million from the $484,491,838 issued for the second year of combating the opioid crisis.