EAST TEXAS, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas lawmaker is taking aim at the opioid crisis in Texas. State Rep. Jay Dean, R-District 7, has filed multiple bills focused on three strategies: increase the availability and the visibility of drug take back locations, target criminals and empower people.
House Bill 2086 falls under the first strategy and would require pharmacies that dispense controlled substances to also provide a regular, secure and anonymous method of disposal.
“Seventy percent of abused medications are taken from household medical cabinets," Dean said Thursday. “If you’re going to distribute the opioids, you have to provide a way for them to bring them back to you and the pharmacy discards them.”
House Bill 2088 is the next part of that strategy. It would require that along with filling a prescription, pharmacies must also provide written notice of the nearest take-back location.
Dean acknowledges that not every opioid user is an opioid abuser.
“There’s a lot of people out there, elderly people, people with various types of serious illness that need opioids to give them any type of quality of life,” Dean said. “You go shooting a silver bullet to get rid of opioids and you’re going to leave a large part of our population that follow their prescription, that do not abuse.”
More than 130 people die from an opioid overdose every day in the U.S., according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Longview ranks 17th nationally in opioid abuse. Other Texas cities high on the list include Amarillo, Odessa and Texarkana.
Target the criminals
Dean’s strategy for targeting criminals includes House Bill 2087, which would require E-prescriptions for Schedule II narcotics in order to stop the possibility of forged prescriptions.
Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Examples include oxycodone and fentanyl.
“That manual prescription pad is worth $16,000 to $18,000 on the street, and it never dawned on me that people would actually steal those but they do all the time," Dean said.
Dean’s strategy to empower people is listed in House Bill 2085, which would give patients the option of signing a non-opioid directive to keep the doctor from prescribing opioids to them.
Dean says doctors cut the number of opioid prescriptions by 25 to 30 percent nationwide.
“A lot of that’s to do with doctors talking to their patients and explaining what the negative sides of opioids are. That’s the kind of you know messaging that needs to take place so people understand,” he said.
Dean represents Texas House District 7, which includes Gregg and Upshur counties.