April 25, 2017 07:35 AM

Sen. Fred Mills' SB55 and SB75 head to the House for consideration.

Photo by Robin May

The Senate gave unanimous approval to SB55 and SB75 by Sen. Fred Mills on Monday, advancing his bills that, respectively, require physicians and pharmacists to become more activel in the fight against opioid addiction and reform the makeup and operation of 25 health professional licensing boards.

The Senate voted 33-0 to approve SB55 with minor technical amendments. The bill would require anyone involved in the procurement of opioids for research or treatment obtain a license from the state Board of Pharmacy and to report all prescriptions of the drugs and each time the prescriptions are filled, using the state's prescription monitoring program.

Mills tells The Independent that the PMP has been in place for nearly a decade but is used by only a small percentage of physicians and pharmacists. SB55 seeks to encourage more widespread use of the program by those groups by adding continuing education requirements to members of both professions with the ability to prescribe opioids and to fill those prescriptions.

Senators approved Mills' SB75 by a vote of 27-5 on Monday. The bill would make major changes in the operation of 25 health professional licensing boards that operate within the Louisiana Department of Health. Those changes include requiring that at least one consumer without ties to the relevant profession be appointed on each of those boards.

The bill would also limit the role of the licensing boards in disciplinary matters by transferring disciplinary decisions to administrative law judges. Mills says the current arrangement where the committees run the investigation of complaints and rule on them contains inherent conflicts of interests.

The third major change in the bill would be to require that each board would have its authorization sunset at the same time the authorization for the Louisiana Department of Health does. Mills wants each health professional licensing board to justify its continued existence at that time, rather than have its authorization renewed automatically when LDH's authority is renewed.

You can read Sen. Mills' more detailed descriptions of his bills here.

Both bills now move to the House where they await assignment to committees for hearings there.

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