John Nygren, and assemblyman whose family has had first-hand experience with opiate abuse proposed three bills to the Wisconsin State Senate health committee. Nygren’s daughter has battled with an addiction to heroin and he is not hiding it. He is taking this situation and trying to improve the lives of people who need it. Nygren has passed heroin legislation in the past but now he is taking on legal medications.
"This session, our goal is to address what many believe, including myself, is the root of our state's heroin problem, meaning prescription drug abuse and addiction," said Nygren. "Studies show that in many cases, heroin addiction begins with an addiction to prescription painkillers."
The bills that were passed due to the vigilance of Nygren are pushing the role governments play in preventing opiate abuse far in the right direction. The first bill that was passed will require pharmacists to enter prescriptions into the Prescription Drug Monitoring Database within 24 hours. This bill was expected to receive backlash because it increases doctors workload but it is definitely needed. Dr. Halverson of the Wisconsin Medical Society expected such a “pushback” but he said the requirement is “absolutely the right thing to do.” Dr. Halverson on the other hand is worried that patients may not be able to obtain the painkillers they think they need.
The second bill passed will create a state registry of pain clinics. This will give the state a better understanding on how many of these pain clinics are being run and have all of their information together in one place for easy monitoring. Doing this will help the state see illegal activity and compare the numbers of prescribing methods compared to clinics in the same category. The third bill will require treatment programs that use methadone to report relapse rates. Doing this gives the state data that will help visualize what practices are working and which ones are not. It will also allow the state to follow trends and help them figure out new solutions to the ever growing problem.
The bills that were passed are pushing governments involvement in the opiate epidemic in the right direction. Focusing in on prescription painkillers is something that needs to be done. Most addicts who abuse heroin started off by using prescription painkillers. Keeping a better hold on these prescription medications will help our citizens in the long run. Bills like these have a lasting effect on society and will directly effect taxes, crime rates and save peoples lives.
John Nygren continues to make great impacts in the state of Wisconsin. The fact that he has not hidden the hardships his daughter and his family have faced and instead taken on the issue and trying to find ways to help is very noble. Expect to see other states taking notice of the work he has done and create similar bills.