OLYMPIA – Last night as President Obama talked about a bipartisan approach to curb the national heroin epidemic, Rep. Strom Peterson (D – Edmonds) introduced a bill to make opioid prescriptions safer in Washington and help prevent addiction.
Peterson’s bill (HB 2464) would require health insurance companies to include coverage for new abuse-deterrent formulas for opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone and codeine.
Abuse of heroin and other opioids has skyrocketed nationally, becoming a topic for State of the Union addresses and presidential campaigns. In Snohomish County, the rate of heroin deaths per 100,000 has exceeded the statewide average, as reported by The Everett Herald.
Snohomish County alone accounted for nearly one out of every five heroin-related deaths in Washington from 2011 to 2013.
A cutting-edge new technology has allowed pharmaceutical companies to create tamper-resistant formulas of the most commonly prescribed opioids. These new opioids make it harder for those suffering from addiction to abuse medication by snorting or injecting the drug.
But all of the new tamper-proof drugs are brand name, so many insurance policies don’t cover them, instead opting for generics that are easy to abuse. Peterson’s bill would require insurance companies cover these new medications. As reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly half of young heroin users said they abused opioids before starting to use heroin.
“There is no one policy that will single-handedly end addiction in our communities,” said Rep. Strom Peterson. “But this incredible new technology will give doctors the ability to prescribe abuse-deterrent opioids for patients who may be at risk of developing an addiction, already addicted or recovering. With heroin abuse touching so many American families, we should spare no expense in doing everything we can to make safer prescriptions affordable and help save a life.”