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New Nebraska Law LB 931 Aims to Reduce Prescription Opioid Abuse

On April 4, 2018, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts placed another tool in the box of the State's efforts to fight abuse of prescription opioids by signing LB 931. The new law places several requirements on health care practitioners to help stem the rising tide of abuse of prescription opioids. The bill's effective date is July 19, 2018.

First, any practitioner prescribing opioids to a patient younger than 18 years must describe the potential dangers of abuse prior to the initial prescription and again prior to the third prescription, if any. The practitioner must describe: the risks of addiction and overdose, why the prescription is necessary, and the availability of alternative treatments. Either the patient or the patient's parent or guardian can be the recipient of this information. This requirement will terminate on January 1, 2029.

Second, practitioners may not prescribe more than a seven-day supply of opioids for patients younger than 18 in the outpatient setting. A practitioner may, however, prescribe more than a seven-day supply if he or she believes the patient's medical condition requires it or the prescription is for pain treatment for a cancer diagnosis or palliative care. If a patient receives more than a seven-day supply, the practitioner must record the patient's underlying condition in the medical record that triggered the deviation and a statement that non-opiate alternatives were not appropriate to treat the condition. This requirement will also terminate on January 1, 2029.

Third, LB 931 requires any individual receiving opioids to present a valid driver's license if he or she is not "positively known" to the pharmacist or dispensing practitioner. An individual may also present a valid military ID, alien registration card, or passport. This requirement does not apply to individuals receiving opioids in the inpatient setting.

Senator Sarah Howard (District 9; Omaha) introduced LB 931 in early January, 2018. The bill incorporated two similar laws introduced by Senators Brett Lindstrom (District 18; Omaha) and John Kuehn (District 38; Kearney area).

Zachary J. Buxton

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