CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Senate’s Joint Labor Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 12, discussed a bill that would aim to address opioid abuse across the state.
SF 77 is an act that would authorize the Board of Pharmacy to release and share information from a prescription tracking program. The program wouldn’t be used to infringe on anyone legally using controlled substances, such as opioids, but rather to keep track of anyone who might be driving to other towns, counties or states to obtain more prescription drugs than what they should take.
Sen. Fred Baldwin told the committee about an experience he had where a man who was a known opioid abuser got his wife to help him travel to various doctors’ offices in the region, ultimately ending up in Kemmerer, Wyoming, to try and obtain more drugs.
“I got a call about a woman who had fallen out of a truck and gotten hurt and that her husband was looking for pills,” he told the committee and its audience. “The office that called me didn’t know if they’d come my way, but to be on the lookout. Sure enough, 45 minutes later, they walk into my office and the husband tells the same story, but instead, he’s the one who got hurt. He wanted those painkillers.”
Wyoming Board of Pharmacy executive director Matt Martineau spoke during the meeting, asking the committee to make a couple of amendments in the bill. One request was to change the effectiveness date from July 1, 2020 to immediately upon signing by Gov. Mark Gordon. The other was to amend the language in the bill, trying to make the wording broader so the state would be able to work with participating states on the prescription tracker.
Both of these amendments were approved unanimously by the committee, whose members include Baldwin, Sen. Anthony Bouchard and Natrona County Sen. Charles Scott, who is the chairman.
Greg Hunter spoke to the board as a Wyoming resident, asking the Labor Committee to expand the bill to include tracking information on cancer patients. As someone who has lost a loved one to opioid abuse, he explained to the committee why this legislation was important.
“My brother-in-law died from painkiller abuse in 1999,” he said. “And in that time, I’ve been shocked to see that heroin addiction has basically become legal in this country. Deaths from opioid abuse have gone down, but it’s because people are moving on to drugs like methamphetamine, which is a major issue here in Wyoming and in Colorado.”
Scott told Hunter that the Senate would be under constraints to expand the bill, since the Legislature is in a shorter budget session this year. Hunter explained that some type of expansion could be done and the chairman thanked Hunter for his comments.
The bill will now return to the Senate for discussion.