IHPI members' research on opioid prescription practices informs Michigan policymaking

December 15, 2017

IHPI members' research on opioid prescription practices informs Michigan policymaking


Connecting the research produced by faculty-led teams to the policy decisions made every day in Michigan and around the country is a key goal for IHPI and academic units across campus.

Government relations staff at IHPI, the School of Public Health and Michigan Medicine work with faculty to share relevant research findings with policymakers in Lansing and in Washington, D.C., and to participate in health policy debates.

A great recent example is the effort to inform Michigan policymaking aimed at combating the opioid crisis through prescription drug monitoring and other prescribing-related practices.

Rebecca Cunningham, M.D., professor of emergency medicine and of health behavior and health education and director of the U-M Injury Prevention Center, recently provided testimony to the Michigan House of Representatives Health Policy Committee in support of legislation to strengthen Michigan’s prescription drug monitoring program. It's known as the Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS.

The crisis has reached epidemic levels in Michigan, with opioid-related incidents causing more deaths than motor vehicle crashes. Much of the Injury Prevention Center’s recent work has been focused on opioid overuse and overdose prevention efforts.

Cunningham’s testimony provided details of research related to the MAPS program to help lawmakers deliberate on two bills passed by both houses of the legislature in mid-December.

Senate Bill 166 would require licensed physicians to obtain and review a MAPS report before prescribing opioids to patients in order to reduce the practice of “doctor shopping”—when patients visit multiple physicians to obtain prescriptions for opioid medications.

Citing research findings from health management and policy professor Rebecca Haffajee, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H., Cunningham showed that other states have seen significant progress in reducing doctor shopping after adopting similar registration and use mandates for prescribers. She added that a requirement to check MAPS reports for all patients would inform safer prescribing practices in Michigan. Addictive behavior itself, Cunningham noted, does not discriminate.

Senate Bill 167 would impose penalties on providers for not checking the MAPS system and would establish a graduated fee scale for violations of the new mandate. Cunningham stated that the penalties were reasonable and necessary to change physician practice patterns to address this epidemic.

Citing Injury Prevention Center research, she told members of the Health Policy Committee that the penalties included in the pending proposal are comparably stringent to those that have been effective in achieving results in other states.

Several IHPI members, including Cunningham, Chad Brummett, M.D., and Amy Bohnert, Ph.D., M.H.S., shared their research findings as part of a panel discussion convened by the Wolverine Caucus in Lansing — a broader audience including stakeholder organizations, legislators and staff, and officials from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and other state agencies. The goal of these outreach efforts is to create a safer prescribing system for all Michiganders. 



Adapted from the SPH Findings magazine