Governor Walker signs legislation to increase opioid awareness, education, and monitoring

Governor Bill Walker today signed major opioid reforms into law as a critical next step in Building a Safer Alaska. House Bill 159 passed both houses with sweeping, bipartisan support; it was carried in the House by Representative Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage) and in the Senate by Senator Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna).

“I introduced this legislation as a part of our multi-pronged effort to fight the opioid epidemic facing Alaska, and I’m incredibly pleased to be able to sign it today,” Governor Walker said. “One death resulting from opioid abuse or misuse is too many, and we must tackle this issue head-on as Alaskans. HB 159 is an example of healthcare providers, legislators, and Alaskans pulling together to build a safer state as a community. I thank Rep. Spohnholz, Sen. Micciche, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jay Butler, and countless others for all of the work put into this legislation. It is my sincere hope that lives will be changed as a result of it.”

HB 159 allows patients to execute a Voluntary Nonopioid Directive, making it clear that they do not desire to be administered an opioid. The confidential information would be provided to an individual’s healthcare provider or hospital, and is revocable at any time. Alaskans will also be able to request partial fills of opioid prescriptions from pharmacists, without voiding the remainder of the prescription. Additionally, the legislation limits first-time opioid prescriptions to no more than a 7-day supply with exceptions, strengthens reporting and education requirements for pharmacists and healthcare providers, and requires the controlled substance prescription database to be updated daily starting July 1, 2018, instead of weekly, to increase communication among providers and transparency.