If the bill becomes law, physicians would be required to register prescriptions with the state’s drug monitoring program within 24 hours. That’s an effort to cut down on “doctor-shopping.” Representative Shannon Lundren of Peosta, in Dubuque County, said early intervention will save lives.
“In my home country alone, we lost too many lives in a short matter of time, including two brothers who lost their battle within hours of each other,” Lundgren said. “These are people who left behind mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, children and loved ones to ask: ‘Why?'”
A few legislators, like Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt of Cedar Rapids, specifically mentioned family members who’ve been addicted to opioids.
“I had a cousin who I very much loved…She passed away in December because of an opioid addiction,” she said. “…This bill before us, by voting yes, will make Iowa a better place. Not only that, it will save lives.”
Representative Dave Jacoby of Coralville mentioned a 23-year-old who overdosed a year ago today. The young man was the son of Jacoby’s cousin.
“(He) and his wife Brenda are strong through their faith, strong through friends, strong through family,” Jacoby said, “but they need us to do step one and they also need us to continue the fight.”
Representative Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, described the bill as a “first step.”
“I know that there are others in this room who would like to see this bill do a little bit more, including myself,” Heaton said. “…It’s my hope that in the future we will have a truly comprehensive bill.”
The bill that cleared the House tonight would forbid handwritten, paper prescriptions. Heaton and others are also hoping to boost state funding of drug treatment programs and legalize so-called “needle exchange” programs that prevent the spread of disease.
State officials say more than 200 Iowans died of an opioid overdose in 2017.