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State Task Force Targets Docs Who Over-Prescribe Opioids

A pharmacists holds prescription painkiller Oxycodone Hydrochloride, 30mg pills, made by Mallinckrodt at a local pharmacy, in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/George Frey)A pharmacists holds prescription painkiller Oxycodone Hydrochloride, 30mg pills, made by Mallinckrodt at a local pharmacy, in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/George Frey)
Minnesota’s opioid task force set new rules Thursday in the fight against addiction by lowering the number of pain killers doctors can dispense to state Medicaid patients.
The state has set up new dosage limits on short-term pain medications to discourage abuse. Any physician who exceeds limits for more than half of their patients would receive a formal warning and mandated training, the Star Tribune reported.
If doctors continue to over-prescribe, they could face expulsion from the Medicaid program, according to the news outlet.

For non-surgeons and dentists, dosages cannot be over a 100 morphine milligram equivalent in more than half of a doctor’s opioid medication prescriptions. Surgeons are allowed to prescribe a 200 morphine milligram equivalent for each outpatient prescription.

The Opioid Prescribing Work Group is led by Dr. Chris Johnson and has been active since 2015, as a response to the worsening opioid epidemic in the state.

Opioids recently surpassed marijuana as the second most cited substance of abuse in Minnesota, according to the state’s Department of Human Services. It was second only to alcohol, according to a report from the department in April 2017.

Task force members have said they plan to provide exemptions to doctors who prescribe a higher amount of opioids for conditions like chronic pain.

The new restrictions would not apply to patients with private insurance who do not use Medicaid.

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