The 2013 Legislature approved Senate Joint Resolution 20, for a study of ways to reduce prescription drug abuse. Legislators ranked the study seventh out of 17 study resolutions in a post-session poll, and the Legislative Council assigned the study to the Children and Families Committee. The committee reviewed and adopted a study plan at its meeting on June 25.
During its study, the committee heard from medical professionals about pain management and the use of prescription narcotics; from law enforcement officials who investigate and prosecute cases involving prescription drugs; and from national experts who have studied prescription drug abuse and ways to prevent it, including the use of prescription drug monitoring programs as a preventive tool. Members also heard from Montana state agencies about steps they are taking to reduce prescription drug use, misuse, and abuse.
The committee considered five study-related bill drafts during the interim and approved three of them for introduction in the 2015 Legislature. The bills would:
extend the sunset date for the fee that certain health care providers pay for the Montana Prescription Drug Registry, from 2015 to 2017, and allow the fee to be increased from the current $15 to a maximum of $30;
allow health care providers to submit prescriptions for controlled substances to pharmacies using electronic means; and
clarify that health care professionals may notify law enforcement when they believe patients are illegally obtaining prescription painkillers or may cause an imminent threat to public health or safety. The bill also would provide immunity to providers who share the information.
The committee also considered draft legislation to require health care licensing boards to adopt uniform pain management rules for the use of opioids in treating chronic, noncancer pain and to require an adult to pick up a controlled substances prescription for a minor. Based on public comment received on those drafts, the committee decided against introducing the legislation in the 2015 session.
Following is a list of the legislation approved by the committee, using the official bill drafting (LC) number that has been assigned to the bill. The bill's progress through the legislative process may be followed using the LC number in the online bill-tracking system. The original LC number used for purposes of discussion is in parentheses behind the subject of each bill.
In some instances, the committee considered more than one version of the bill before approving a final version. All versions of those bills are listed below.
LC 335: Allow Information Sharing with Law Enforcement (LCCF02)