Opioid prescribing limits earn bipartisan support | Behavioral Healthcare Executive Skip to content Skip to navigation

Opioid prescribing limits earn bipartisan support

April 14, 2017
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
| Reprints

On Thursday, Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) proposed legislation to limit initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain to seven days. Similar policies are already in effect in several states.

The national legislation would require medical professionals to certify, as part of their DEA registration, that they will not prescribe as an initial treatment for acute pain more than a seven-day supply of opioid drugs and will not provide refills. Like other current laws and proposals, the opioid limit does not apply to cancer care, hospice or palliative care.

More than a year ago, Massachusetts was the first state to mandate a limit of a maximum seven-day supply, even though the governor had originally sought a three-day limit. New York enacted a similar law in June 2016, while also requiring insurers to cover more addiction treatment services. In Arizona, the governor issued an executive order in October 2016 limiting opioid prescriptions from state-run programs to seven days.

Ohio just created a seven-day limitation for adults and a five-day limitation for children, and the policy will soon be enforced through health professional board certification processes. However, prescribers can override the limits if they provide a specific reason in the patient's medical record. Meanwhile, the state legislature still has a plan in the works that limits acute prescriptions to just three days’ supply.