Legislative Alert: Hawai'i Opioid Crisis: Prescriptions and Labeling

Aug 23, 2018

The Hawai'i government has developed a multi-faceted attack on the opioid crisis, with several bills designed to combat the opioid crisis in the state. Here are two measures relating to the epidemic.

SB 2244: Relating to Workers' Compensation

On July 9, 2018, Governor David Ige signed SB 2244. Introduced in January of this year by a combination of 13 Democrat senators, the bill "Requires health care providers in the workers' compensation system who are authorized to prescribe opioids to adopt and maintain policies for informed consent to opioid therapy in circumstances that carry elevated risk of dependency." It also establishes a 7-day limitation on opioid prescriptions unless the supply is determined to be reasonably needed.

Designed to combat the overprescribing and abuse of opioids in the workers' compensation system, it passed the Senate and House with minor amendments to the original bill, and is effective immediately.

HB 1602: Relating to Opioids

On July 11, 2018, Governor Ige signed HB 1602. Introduced in January by Representative Cynthia Thielen and six co-authors, the bill "Requires the inclusion of a label warning of the risks of addiction and death on the packaging of any opioid drug dispensed by a health care professional or pharmacist." The bill requires that any opioid drug contains a warning label with wording similar to, "Caution: Opioid. Risk of overdose and addiction."

The bill passed both House and Senate with minor amendments. The Hawaii Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association provided testimony in support of the movement. The bill is effective immediately provided that the warning label requirement is implemented starting August 1, 2018.

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