LARA cracking down on doctors over prescribing opioids

LARA cracking down on doctors over prescribing opioids. File - WWMT

LANSING, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The state of Michigan suspended the license of Saginaw physician Amaning Sarkodie for alleging overprescribing addictive opioids to patients for unlawful medical purposes.

An investigation by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) found Sarkodie authorized 20,000 controlled substance prescriptions.

Cracking down on medical professionals who over prescribe dangerous drugs is a recommendation by a drug task force assigned by Governor Rick Snyder and more doctors could end up under the microscope as the state fights the opioid epidemic.

Political Reporter Nick Minock spoke with LARA on how they are reducing addictive drugs from getting in the hands of those who shouldn't have them.

Director of the Bureau of Professional Licensing Kim Gaedeke said they suspended the license of a Saginaw physician.

She said, "This particular doctor, we have evidence was overprescribing."

Sarkondie is one of many Michigan doctors caught in the act of overprescribing by LARA.

In order to prevent prescription drug abuse, Gaedeke recently relaunched the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) to give doctors the tools they need to see if patients are receiving controlled substances from other providers.

Gaedeke said, “By fully replacing the system, what use to take 5 to 10 minutes to run a patient report for prescribers, it now takes less than a second to run that report."

The new face lift of MAPS also allows LARA to flag doctors who overprescribe dangerous drugs.

Gaedeke said, "What we currently have is mandated reporting."

Doctors aren't mandated to check MAPS before prescribing, but that won't be the case if a bill introduced by Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, (R-26th District) gets the green light.

Schuitmaker said, "So that every prescriber of MAPS goes to check to find out if what they are prescribing is schedule 2 to 5 opioid. This will cut down on the two problems we face: one doctor shopping and two pill mills."

Gaedeke said MAPS is a central key piece to fighting the opioid epidemic.

The Michigan State Medical Society isn't on board with Schuitmaker's bill just yet. They said they don't want doctors to enter information to two different systems.

Colin Ford, with the Michigan State Medical Society, said, “We want to try to really focus the doctors time on treating the patient and not necessarily doing mandate where the benefit is minimal. We want to strike the right balance so we are working with her and we think we will get there."