Louisiana State Senator Regina Barrow
State Senator Regina Barrow’s office submitted these responses to the American Opioid Podcast on 10/17/2018 7:04:52 AM.
What district of Louisiana do you represent?
Briefly, how would you describe the opioid crisis in your state?
Louisiana has seen a steady increase in opioid-related deaths since 1999, and the number of deaths has more than doubled from 2011 to 2015. My state has the sixth highest opioid pain reliever-prescribing rate in the nation, averaging 122 prescriptions per 100 people. The CDC has stated that more than 1,000 people died from an overdose in Louisiana in 2016. From 2014 to 2015, opioid overdoses increased by 12 percent in the state, according to Louisiana Department of Health. This number surpasses the number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents, homicides or suicides.
What are the two or three most significant bills that have been introduced in your chamber to help alleviate the opioid crisis in your state?
Significant legislation to address the opioid crisis in Louisiana has come out of both Chambers:
Act 82 of the 2017 Regular Session (Rep. Helena Moreno) provides for limitations on the prescribing of opioid drugs.
Act 76 of the 2017 RS (Sen. Fred Mills) strengthens the state's Prescription Monitoring Program, which is a database for doctors and pharmacists. The bill will require prescribers to check the system before prescribing an opioid to a patient and check it every 90 days, to reduce doctor shopping by patients who seek out multiple prescriptions.
Act 88 of the 2017 RS (Rep. Walt Leger) created a 13-member advisory council on heroin and opioid prevention and education to develop policy recommendations to combat opioid abuse.
What was your involvement, if any, in those bills (e.g., introduction, advocacy, vote pledge)?
I am a member of the Advisory Council on Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) to develop policy recommendations to combat opioid abuse. I have co-authored the legislation listed and voted in support of all of these policy measures.
Have any of the bills passed? If not, why?
All of the legislation listed above has been signed into law.
What was the most memorable experience you had while learning about the opioid crisis in your state?
I learned much about the opioid crisis in Louisiana through policy research after legislation has come before Senate committees and through public testimonies.
If you had a magic wand that allowed you to pass any legislation you wanted in order to help alleviate the opioid crisis in your state, what would that legislation look like?
I would pass legislation that afforded those suffering from opioid addiction unlimited access to care both mental health care and medical treatment as well as long-term recovery treatment.