Senate Bill 505 in Hawaii 

Please note: Senate Bill 505 in Hawaii is NOT a W-BAD sponsored bill. It is listed here to keep the public apprised of bills that are popping up in legislatures across the country. It is important to Campaign by sending in letters (and/or making phone calls) to “key people” requesting amendments to troublesome benzodiazepine bills (e.g. bills which require mandatory drug testing for iatrogenically dependent BZ patients, bills which do not contain provisions to protect long-term iatrogenically dependent BZ patients from being “cut off” or forced to cold-turkey or rapidly taper, etc). It appears that these legislative efforts are going to pop up across the country, created by legislators with little knowledge of the benzodiazepine problem, and so the best W-BAD and its supporters can do is to try to have some influence on the bills. It is imperative that we campaign to educate these legislators before more people are negligently harmed. 

Currently, that we are aware of, there are three bills in the U.S. legislature attempting to regulate benzodiazepine prescribing—one in the House and one in the Senate in Massachusetts, as well as one in the Senate in Hawaii.

As of April 23, 2017, lawmakers in Hawaii are trying to come to an agreement on a bill that seeks to limit not only prescriptions for opioids but for benzodiazepines. The proposal has, not surprisingly, stirred up opposition from doctors, drug policy advocates and community groups.

Senate Bill 505 would limit initial prescriptions of both opiates and benzodiazepines, except under certain circumstances, to seven days. The seven-day limit for initial prescriptions would be waived under normal circumstances, such as after surgery or when a patient is in hospice or palliative care.

This Bill comes as a response to the growing overdose deaths in Hawaii.

While it is imperative to regulate and limit the length for which new benzodiazepine prescriptions can be given to a period of a week or two, which this bill does, there are still a few concerns with Senate Bill 505 in Hawaii (please mention these points and ask that they be included in an amendment to this bill, if it passes, when you contact key legislators in Hawaii):

  • it only calls for informed consent for an opiate prescription, where informed consent for a benzodiazepine prescriptions is as, if not more, important.
  • there is no mention of protecting already physically dependent (from repeat as prescribed use) patients who have been on the benzodiazepines long-term against being withdrawn against their will (no one who is already physically dependent should be forced to withdraw against their will) or from being forced to withdraw faster than they are physically able (all rates/speeds of tapers to discontinue benzodiazepines should be controlled by the patient).

To read the full text of Senate Bill 505 in Hawaii or to find out more about its status, click here.

To participate in contacting key legislators in Hawaii about this bill, click here (and go to the ‘Hawaii’ section of the page).

Learn more: 

Lawmakers Tussle with Bill to Fight Painkiller Addiction by Honolulu Star-Advertiser