Joe Miller Law - September 2017

NEWSLETTER

F ollow U s

09 | 17

www .J oe M iller I njury L aw . com | 888-694-7994

THE UNFORESEEN VICTIMS OF VIRGINIA’S NEW OPIOID LAWS Hurting Those Already in Pain

cover it. Unfortunately, my client will still need to pay for the drug because their doctors will be legally obligated to prescribe it. It is incredibly important to combat the opioid epidemic, but I am frustrated to see the men and women I represent being punished for the actions of criminals who have been lacing street heroin with what is essentially an elephant tranquilizer. These regulations just create more hoops for my clients to jump through, hurting people who have already been badly hurt. These regulations are up for reevaluation in 2022. Until then, I promise I will stay informed about these laws and be prepared to fight to get what’s best for my clients. “While the opioid epidemic is a horrifying crisis that needs to be addressed, as a lawyer who represents severely injured workers, I fear these new laws will cause my clients more pain.” – Joseph Miller

Many of my clients are familiar with opioids and buprenorphine, medications commonly prescribed for acute and chronic pain. After suffering from a severe accident and having hardware screwed into your bones during intense surgery, this type of pain medication can greatly help the recovery process. Unfortunately, due to the highly addictive nature of these drugs, Virginia has seen a dramatic increase in deaths caused by drug overdose. In 2016, at least 1,400 people in Virginia died from a drug overdose — a 175 percent increase from 2015. The Virginia Department of Health and law enforcement reports show this spike is likely caused by street heroin being laced with powerful opioids such as Fentanyl or Carfentanil. Fentanyl is 10 times as strong as heroin, while Carfentanil is estimated to be 10,000 times stronger. Carfentanil is typically used on elephants and can kill a human within minutes. This crisis has the Board of Medicine in a panic. In an attempt to address the nationwide and statewide opioid epidemic, on July 1 of this year, Governor McAuliffe signed new regulations regarding opioids and buprenorphine into law. Under these new laws, doctors will not be permitted to prescribe opioids for more than 14 days unless there are “extenuating circumstances.” However, what those

“extenuating circumstances” may be are unclear, and a person who’s undergone a spinal fusion is going to need more than two weeks’ worth of medication. While the opioid epidemic is a horrifying crisis that needs to be addressed, as a lawyer who represents severely injured workers, I fear these new laws will cause my clients more pain. I imagine many doctors may begin to refuse to prescribe opioids at all for fear of breaking these regulations and losing their license. This only makes it a greater challenge to find pain relief after surgery. These regulations could cost my clients more money. Take the regulations regarding buprenorphine, for example. Buprenorphine is used to battle heroin or other opioid addictions. It’s fast-acting and reverses the effects of opioids. Many of my clients also struggle with PTSD and are prescribed anti-anxiety medication along with pain medications. In a situation where a patient is being prescribed anti-anxiety medication and opioids, the new laws require physicians to also prescribe the buprenorphine. Why is this a problem? Well, I can already hear the insurance adjusters who will refuse to pay for buprenorphine. They’ll insist the drug is for addiction, and since that’s not something my client was insured for, they don’t have to

If you belong to a union or other labor-related group and want to schedule my presentation at your group’s speaking arrangement, you can do so by calling 888-694-7994 . The presentation is free of charge, offers important information for taking appropriate action in Virginia workers’ compensation cases, and everyone in attendance gets a free copy of my book, “10 Traps and Lies that Can Ruin Your Virginia Workers Compensation Case.” Education is the best way to protect yourself from making a mistake, so call now before it’s too late.

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