State News

Gov. Shumlin leads bipartisan effort among nation’s governors for limits on opiate prescribing

At an annual meeting of the nation’s governors, Gov. Peter Shumlin led a successful bipartisan effort to create nationwide prescribing protocols to reduce the availability of Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) approved opiates in America. The protocols, which are likely to include restrictions on the number of opiates that can be prescribed, will be developed in the coming weeks and submitted for ratification by the National Governors Association (NGA).

Near the end of a meeting of the NGA’s Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee on Saturday, Feb. 20, Gov. Shumlin urged that instead of dancing around the issue, the governors should come up with prescribing protocols that would be recommended for all 50 states.

“Let’s figure it out,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Let’s come up with a suggested list of protocols, and as governors let’s drive them through our states.”

The HHS Committee unanimously approved Gov. Shumlin’s motion to do that.

Shumlin’s motion came after he made a plea to attack the source of the opiate problem, which he described as F.D.A-approved opiates that are “passed out like candy.” The Governor noted that in 2010 enough opiates were prescribed to keep every adult in America high for an entire month and in 2012 enough were prescribed to give every American their own bottle of pills.

The Governor drew support from Republican governors on the Committee, including Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Mass.) who said, “The United States represents five percent of the world’s population but consumers 80 percent of the world’s opioids. There is something that is just fundamentally flawed with almost everything I know about this issue.”

In support of Gov. Shumlin’s motion, Gov. Matt Bevin (R-Kentucky) said, “We have to be serious about it. This isn’t a game.”

Gov. Shumlin’s push for limits on the number of opiates that can be prescribed comes after he called for similar action in his State of the State Address in January.

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