Attorney General’s Office Releases Report, Proposes Legislation to Combat Opioid Epidemic

By The Chronicle

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson released a report Tuesday recommending specific policies to reduce the supply of opioids in Washington in an effort to combat the epidemic of opioid abuse in the state. 

“The report recommends a comprehensive approach to the problem, addressing prevention, treatment and enforcement,” according to a news release from the AG’s office. 

In June, Ferguson pledged to introduce legislation consistent with the report’s recommendations. He announced three requested bills with policy recommendations. 

 The bills would require health care providers to check the state’s prescription monitoring database before prescribing opioids, limits the number of opioids a provider can initially prescribe and gives the Attorney General’s Office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit more authority to investigate opioid-related Medicaid fraud cases. 

The Attorney General’s Office, the Washington State Patrol and the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys developed the report based on information shared at the Summit on Reducing the Supply of Opioids in Washington State in June. 

“The opioid epidemic is devastating Washington families,” Ferguson said in a statement. “This report makes it clear we have a crisis, and provides concrete, evidence-based solutions.”

On average, two people die each day from opioid overdoses in Washington, according to Ferguson’s news release. In 2011, at the peak of opioid sales in Washington, more than 112 million daily doses of all prescription opioids were dispensed in the state — enough for a 16-day-supply for every person in the state, according to Ferguson.

“I am proposing some of these common-sense changes as legislation in the upcoming session, including limiting new opioid prescriptions and using the existing Prescription Monitoring Program to empower providers with a more complete picture of their patients’ history before writing new prescriptions,” Ferguson wrote. “It is time for the Legislature to take action