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Jan 12, 2016 6:07 PM

Lawmakers to vote soon on Substance Abuse Task Force's bills regarding NH opioid epidemic

CONCORD - The state's lawmakers will be voting this week on two fast-tracked bills created by the Substance Abuse Task Force.

If approved, Senate Bill 576 would increase the penalties for the illegal sale of fentanyl, making the punishment for the crime as severe as the sale of heroin.

It also proposes required daily reports to the now voluntary prescription drug monitoring program.

This would help prevent "doctor shoppers," lawmakers said.

Senator Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, said New Hampshire - as a whole - is over-prescribing.

"In the past 10 weeks - from Oct. 1 to December, our state prescribed 638,000 individual prescriptions," Sanborn said, "33 million pills of just opioids."

SB 576 would also require all insurance companies to use the same standards for patients seeking treatment and could lead to the start of a 24-hour crisis hotline.

Senate Bill 447 would create a commission of experts to study the use of the over-dose antidote Narcan.

The commission would consist of senate members, the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, a pharmacist, drug and alcohol counselor, police officer and more.

The committee would look into training methods for administering the drug, as well as whether a person who is revived should be required to go to outpatient treatment.

The Senate votes on the bills Thursday. The house will vote next week.

Follow Colleen on Twitter @ColleenNH1

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