Governor Signs Two Bills to Fight Opioid Crisis

Monday, September 17, 2018

SACRAMENTO—Two bills authored by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) intended to address the opioid crisis – AB 2760 and AB 2789 – have been signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that, “on average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.” Overdoses from prescription opioids are a driving factor in the 16-year increase in opioid overdose deaths and California emergency rooms treat one overdose every 45 minutes.

“If we had a plane crash every day where 120 people onboard lost their lives, the federal government would be hitting the alarm button and doing everything possible to stop that from ever happening again,” said Wood.

Since joining the legislature three years ago, finding solutions to the opioid epidemic has been one of Wood’s priorities. Wood represents two counties in California -- Humboldt and Mendocino -- where opioid prescription death rates are two to three times higher than the national average.

“I strongly believe we need to do more and we must attack this crisis on many fronts – prevention, treatment and by carefully controlling the prescribing process,” said Wood.

AB 2760 requires that, for certain categories of high-risk patients, prescribers must offer a co-prescription for naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. High-risk patients include, for example, those taking a higher dose of an opioid, those who also take a benzodiazepine, patients who have overdosed previously or patients who have a history of substance abuse.

Co-prescribing can also be an opportunity to initiate a discussion with patients on the risk of overdose, the stigma a patient may be facing, and broader issues around treatment for substance abuse. “For the people I represent in the North Coast, who can live miles away from emergency medical services, co-prescribing can literally be a lifesaver,” said Wood.

Dr. Patrice Harris, chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force, has said, "We know that naloxone—by itself—will not reverse the nation's opioid epidemic, but it is a critical component that saves lives and provides a second chance."

AB 2789 requires that, beginning January 1, 2022, prescriptions be submitted electronically, with few exceptions. It provides 3 years for prescribers to obtain the capability to transmit electronic data transmission prescriptions and for pharmacies to have the capability to receive those transmissions. California is the 10th state to have passed e-prescribing laws and 16 states have laws pending, supporting the accessibility of the necessary software.

“This bill will reduce ‘doctor shopping.’ minimize the risk of altered, stolen or fraudulent prescriptions, significantly reduce prescription errors due to poor handwriting and will facilitate placing information into the state’s CURES data base so that it is available to prescribers in a more timely fashion,” said Wood.

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Assemblymember Jim Wood (D- Santa Rosa) represents the 2nd Assembly District, which includes all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, plus northern and coastal Sonoma County, including the northern half of Santa Rosa.

Visit Assemblymember Jim Wood’s website, Facebook or Twitter @JimWoodAD2