W.Va. AG joins coalition urging painkiller prescribing rules

Staff Report

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey joined 35 states and the District of Columbia last week in urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to quickly adopt proposed guidelines for prescribing opioid painkillers.

Morrisey and a bipartisan group of attorneys general believe the CDC’s guidelines provide additional guidance to doctors to better evaluate the potential benefit and harm of prescribing opioid painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

“Prescription drug abuse kills far too many West Virginians,” Morrisey said. “By advancing best practices for physicians, the CDC will help ensure West Virginia doctors have better information to assess the need for such addictive medications.”

The letter refers to the guidelines as “a foundation for practice,” as many primary care and family physicians lack clear direction in deciding when and how to prescribe opioid painkillers. Some steer clear of opioids for fear of losing their license or jeopardizing patients, while others choose the stronger painkillers over more effective, alternative treatments.

The partnering states believe the guidelines’ core message — that many patients can be treated with lower doses or alternative treatment methods — provides critical direction doctors need.

Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic across West Virginia. Just last year, one national study found West Virginia’s fatal overdose rate leads the nation and more than doubles the national average.

Morrisey believes this letter exemplifies the type of collaboration needed nationwide. He continues to call upon officials within West Virginia and beyond to coordinate efforts in hopes of eliminating prescription drug abuse and its deadly consequences.

The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office recently partnered with U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II to prosecute drug crimes in northern West Virginia. Other initiatives include the DRoP program to aid in the disposal of unwanted or expired medication and the ongoing development of a best practices toolkit to better enforce the safe and appropriate use of opioids.

Morrisey signed this week’s letter with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph A. Foster, along with attorneys general from Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.


Staff Report