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Doctors Endorse West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s Opioid Plan

WHEELING — The West Virginia Osteopathic Medical Association and national medical organizations are endorsing West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s suggested “best practices” initiative for doctors prescribing opioids in West Virginia.

And medical students at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine soon will be schooled in those practices, as the school has announced it will implement them into its curriculum.

The American Osteopathic Association and the Americana College of Osteopathic Neurologists and Psychiatrists joined with the state organization inform Morrisey of their support of the initiative. In a letter to the attorney general, they state there were more than 20,000 drug-related deaths nationwide last year.

“We share the concerns of the state, and continue to work with stakeholders nationally to address this epidemic,” they write in the letter. “This requires a comprehensive approach that takes into account the need to ensure appropriate access for patients with a legitimate medical need.”

Morrisey’s suggested “best practices” for doctors prescribing opiates begins with directing doctors to check with West Virginia’s Controlled Substance Monitoring Program every time they write a prescription for an opioid or benzodiazepine, and to look back “at least every once every three months” to ensure the patient’s controlled substance history is consistent with their prescription record.

Morrisey’s office also recommends that doctors conduct random urine toxicology screenings to determine the presence of cocaine, amphetamines, non-prescribed benzodiazepines or other drugs not directed for the patient’s use by a doctor. Physicians also should discuss with their patients the use of any alternatives to painkillers before opioids are prescribed, according to the list of “best practices.”

Morrisey believes better oversight of prescription pill use could decrease overall dependency on opiates.

“It will at least work to eliminate pharmacy and doctor shopping — it could do a lot,” he said. “We’re making good progress, and we’re going to keep going. I think we can make a difference. If we save a few lives each year, isn’t that a powerful thing?”

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