Senate GOP Leader Patricia Bates Introduces Bill Emphasizing Education to Reduce Opioid Tragedies

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Working in partnership with San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan, Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) announced today that she has introduced Senate Bill 1109 to help address the opioid epidemic in California.

“Education is one of the most powerful weapons which we can use to reduce opioid-related tragedies,” said Senator Bates. “I’m proud to work with District Attorney Summer Stephan on this bill to require better training for physicians and more information for patients. While this bill will not completely solve California’s opioid epidemic, it can help save lives as part of a broader legislative effort.”

SB 1109 emphasizes education to reduce opioid overdoses and addiction by:

  1. Requiring continuing medical education of all opioid prescribers to include the risks associated with opioid use;
  2. Requiring a warning label on opioid prescription bottles that addresses the risk of addiction and overdose;
  3. Requiring physicians who prescribe opioids to a minor to discuss risks with the minor’s parent or guardian before issuing the first prescription; and
  4. Requiring youth sports organizations and schools that have athletic programs to annually give a document highlighting the risks of opioid use to each student-athlete and their parent/guardian, and to have the student-athlete and their parent/guardian sign the document.

“I'm honored to partner with Senator Pat Bates on urgently passing critical laws that address the increase in opioids related overdose deaths in our community. Having personally talked with grieving parents who have lost young kids to this deadly epidemic, it was time for clear and effective action to save future lives,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan. “This legislation brings common sense solutions that protect consumers by telling them the truth about the real risk of addiction and overdose from prescription opiates. It also focuses on the duty of medical professionals and athletic school based programs on educating and informing minors and their parents about the risks of opiate based pain medications.”

While places like rural New England have become synonymous with opioid abuse, California is home to many tragedies. According to the California Department of Public Health, there were 1,925 opioid-linked overdose deaths in the state in 2016.

Young people are among the biggest abusers of opioids. According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, one in five teens has abused a prescription pain medication.

Besides SB 1109, Sen. Bates also introduced SB 1103 yesterday that would enhance criminal penalties for illegal distributors of fentanyl, which has been linked to numerous deaths across the nation. SB 1103 is similar to Sen. Bates’ SB 176 (2017) and SB 1323 (2016) that would have addressed opioid trafficking. Neither of the prior bills became law due to concerns over prison overcrowding.

The Senate Rules Committee will refer SB 1109 and SB 1103 to the appropriate policy committees for hearings in the near future.