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Utah Lawmaker And Doctor: “We Have To Stop Getting People Addicted”


A state lawmaker is working on new legislation to curb pain pill addiction in Utah. This one starts at the doctor’s office.

Republican Representative Raymond Ward is a family physician in Bountiful. He says he sees narcotics addiction problems every day in his clinic.

“This is the biggest man-made epidemic in all of history,” Ward says. “We’ve killed 200,000 Americans that had no other reason to die than an opioid overdose.” The legislature this year passed 16 bills intended to help those addicted to opioids, but Ward says it’s not enough. “Every single one of those bills dealt with what we’re going to do after the person is already addicted to narcotics,” he says. “To get to the root of the problem, we have to stop getting new people addicted.”

Ward’s proposal aims at preventing harmful prescription practices at the doctor’s office. His idea is to require authorization from the patient’s insurance company whenever the doctor fills a narcotics prescription that falls outside the most recent federal guidelines. He says the law would apply only to insurance companies that fall under state control, but he’s hopeful that it would change doctors’ habits for all patients.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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