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One strategy Utah lawmakers are considering to attack the state's opioid addiction epidemic would allow patients and doctors to ask for partial narcotics prescriptions.

SALT LAKE CITY — One strategy Utah lawmakers are considering to attack the state's opioid addiction epidemic would allow patients and doctors to ask for partial narcotics prescriptions.

Rep. Stewart Barlow, R-Fruit Heights, said HB146 would "empower" patients and doctors to request and pay for a smaller number of pills to avoid having excess in the home. He said 70 percent of people who misuse narcotics get them from family, friends and on the street.

The bill would also let pharmacists recommend partial fills of prescription medications, but the choice would remain with the patient, said Barlow, an ear, nose and throat doctor.

Federal law already permits partial fills, but patients can't then access the rest of the order without contacting the prescribing doctor. Barlow's bill would allow patients to get the remainder of the prescription without going back to the doctor.

Dave Davis, president of the Utah Retail Merchants Associations, told the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee that the bill would cause some administrative issues for pharmacies. But, he said, the organization supports the legislation as a first step in addressing the opioid problem.

The committee unanimously approved the bill Monday. It now goes to the Senate floor. The House has already passed it.