BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A bill aimed at helping crack down on the state's growing opioid abuse problem overcame its first hurdle Wednesday at the capitol.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee advanced SB 55, sponsored by Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks without objection.
The measure mandates that doctors and other medical practitioners check a statewide database before prescribing an opioid to a patient. The goal, Mills says, is to ensure that patients do not double dip or shop around to get more of a drug than they should, which opens the door for abuse.
"It goes after the opioid issue. What we're hoping is that once doctors access it, they'll see it's a very effective tool in their practice," said Mills.
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The bill is supported by Dr. Beau Clark, the East Baton Rouge coroner, who says the parish is facing an "epidemic." Last year, the parish saw more deaths from overdoses than murders.
"We're seeing it from as young as 16 to 18-years-old to retirees. We're seeing it with people that have money, people that don't have money. Every ounce of the community," said Clark.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.