When a special joint committee of the Texas Legislature tackles issues with controlled substances this year, physician-lawmakers will take the lead.
House Speaker Joe Straus announced last week via Twitter that Rep. J.D. Sheffield, DO (R-Gatesville), will serve on the Joint Interim Committee on Prescribing and Dispensing Controlled Substances with Reps. Donna Howard (D-Austin) and DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne).
The Senate’s contingent on the panel will consist of Sens. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), and Kirk Watson (D-Austin), Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick previously announced.
Senator Schwertner and Representative Sheffield will co-chair the committee, which will study how prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances are monitored in the state. The panel’s charge includes:
- Studying the number of prescribers and dispensers registered to receive certain prescription information electronically; and
- Evaluating how regulatory agencies access that prescription information to monitor people to whom those agencies issue licenses, certification, or registration.
Representative Sheffield will pull double duty on controlled substances during this interim year. He's also the only physician among 13 members of the House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse.
Among its charges, the House committee will study the prevalence and impact of substance use disorders in Texas, as well as the prevalence and impact of opioids and synthetic drugs.
“I think our society has become too dependent on the pill, and not on the entire spectrum of pain management; for instance, physical therapy, weight loss, nutrition, things like that,” Representative Sheffield told Texas Medicine. “And we’re going to have to find out where this went off track, so to speak, and try to get things back on track.”
"We’ll be dealing, of course, with the pill mills especially, my hope is. But then we’ll also be looking at ways we can better define proper prescribing methods, better teamwork on pain management, and especially better patient education about the various aspects of pain management. It doesn’t all start and end with a pain pill.”
The committees begin their work as concern continues over the national opioid epidemic and its ripple effects on the practice of medicine in Texas, such as insurers' preauthorization requirements and regulations giving the state broad authority to investigate pain clinics.
In conjunction with the Texas Board of Pharmacy, the Texas Medical Association produced a tutorial video to help physicians set up accounts and use the state’s revamped Physician Drug Monitoring Program website. Allison Benz of the pharmacy board demonstrates the site in this brief, informative video, showing viewers what each page looks like and how to navigate and interact with the site.