Assembly passes bill targeting reckless prescription practices


STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller and Rep. Deborah Fellela to help address the opioids epidemic by creating penalties for irresponsible prescription practices.

The bill (2021-S 0256Aaa, 2021-H 5094A), which now goes to the governor, grants any licensing board responsible for governing the professional conduct of individuals with the authority to prescribe controlled substances the authority to fine licensees found guilty of unprofessional conduct or violating any provision of the general laws. While no fine would be allowed for a first offense, second offenses could result in fines of up to $1,000, and subsequent offenses could result in up to $5,000 each in fines. The bill also allows the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline to recover more of its administrative costs from proceedings if a licensee is found guilty of an offense. Currently, the board can recover up to $10,000. The bill would raise the cap to $30,000.

The bill is aimed primarily at discouraging reckless overprescribing of opioid painkillers.

“Our opioids crisis is, in part, fueled by addictions that started with prescriptions for painkillers. While most providers take their role in preventing addiction very seriously, there must be real consequences for the few who don’t. The consequences suffered by addicted patients are far worse,” said Chairman Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence).

“In many cases, opioid addiction begins with prescribed painkillers,” said Representative Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston). “The ramifications of reckless over-prescribing has led to an epidemic that has harmed society and torn families apart. This legislation will provide some serious consequences for the handful of physicians who are neglecting to prevent addiction.”



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