California Medical Association urges legislators to oppose bill requiring physicians to offer alternatives to opioid-containing prescriptions


Hannah Saunders


The California Medical Association (CMA) is urging physicians to contact their legislators and ask for a “no” vote on Assembly Bill 1751, saying the bill would place unnecessary burdens on physicians prescribing pain management. AB 1751 is sponsored by the California Chiropractic Association (CalChiro) and would require physicians to share information on and provide referrals to non-pharmacological treatments for pain, while confirming through a patient signature that this has been completed.

“While this bill is being represented as an attempt to reduce the opioid prescription rates, it creates unnecessary administrative burdens and undermines the judgment and expertise of physicians,” CMA stated in a press release


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Current law requires prescribers to discuss specified information with a minor, a minor’s parents or guardians, or another authorized adult before directly dispensing the first prescription of an opioid medication during a single course treatment. If passed, AB 1751 would extend that requirement and apply it to any patient, regardless of whether they are a minor or legal adult.

The bill would also require a prescriber to discuss the availability of and offer a referral to nonpharmacological treatments for pain, while obtaining consent from patients through a signature, including parents or guardians of minors, or other authorized adults. 

“For many patients, especially those covered by Medi-Cal, opportunities to use those alternatives for pain management may not exist,” stated CMA. “Medi-Cal is not required to cover all non-pharmacological treatments, meaning much of the patient population in California will not have the ability to utilize the mandated referrals.”

Laws in place make an exception to the requirement of prescribers in situations where a patient is being treated for a diagnosis of chronic intractable pain, but AB 1751 would remove this exception while replacing it with an exception for situations where a patient is currently receiving hospice care. 

CMA is urging physicians to reach out to legislators now to assist them with understanding issues this bill would pose to healthcare delivery in the state. AB 1751 is scheduled to be heard at the Assembly’s Health Committee on April 11th.