Capitol Alert

Limit painkiller prescriptions to three days, California lawmaker says

With California and the nation reeling from an epidemic of opioid abuse, one lawmaker believes the first step is limiting access to the highly addictive drugs.

Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, is pursuing legislation to limit prescriptions for opioids, which are often used as painkillers, to no more than three days. If the dosage has not decreased by the third refill, Assembly Bill 1998 would also require the doctor to justify in the patient’s medical record why continuing treatment at that level is needed.

Though once mainly used for short-term relief, opioids are increasingly taken for chronic pain, and some patients get addicted to their painkillers. In 2016, opioids, which also encompass heroin and synthetic drugs like fentanyl, caused nearly 2,000 overdose deaths and almost 4,000 visits to the emergency room.

Some California counties have more opioid prescriptions than residents. Rodriguez noted there are doctors who prescribe painkillers “like candy.”

“We don’t want to give it out just to give it out, and there’s no accountability there,” Rodriguez said. “Nobody’s really following up on why that’s necessary.”

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff