Medigram | Wisconsin Medical Society
As Wisconsin faces a resurgence in opioid overdose deaths, the State Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety unanimously approved WisMed-supported legislation that can help save Wisconsin lives. The unanimous 11-0 vote for Assembly Bill 619, which removes fentanyl test strips from the definition of “drug paraphernalia” in the criminal code, occurred November 10 in the State Capitol.
WisMed member and Wisconsin Society of Addiction Medicine (WISAM) President Ritu Bhatnagar, MD, testified in favor of the bill during the committee’s October 20 public hearing, emphasizing how these testing strips can prevent someone from unwittingly taking a drug laced with fentanyl. The bipartisan bill is authored by State Assembly Reps. Jesse James (R-Altoona) and Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (D-Milwaukee) and State Sens. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).
As a recent story in the Wisconsin Examiner about the legislation cites, Wisconsin Department of Health Services data show that more than 6,200 people in Wisconsin died of a drug overdose from 2014-2019, with nearly 4,800 of those deaths involving opioids. Another 1,900 of those deaths were heroin-related. The article also points out that last year in Milwaukee County alone 544 people died a drug-related death – an unfortunate annual record for the county – and more than 400 of those deaths involved fentanyl.
Contact Society Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer Mark Grapentine, JD for more information.