By Bob Katzen 


   House 155-0, Senate 37-0, approved a new law aimed at reducing the opioid abuse crisis in the Bay State. It is designed to reduce the number of opioid pills in circulation by working with many parties involved in the process including schools, doctors, insurance companies and pharmacists. Key provisions require all public schools to have a policy regarding substance abuse prevention; to advise students about the dangers of substance abuse, and to perform an annual verbal screening of pupils for substance use disorders. Parents can opt their children out of the screening requirement. 

   Other provisions include limiting initial opioid prescriptions by doctors to a seven-day supply except for chronic pain management, cancer and palliative care; requiring drug manufacturers to create a program to secure, transport and safely dispose of unwanted drugs; establishing a rehabilitation program for registered pharmacists, pharmacy interns and pharmacy technicians who have a substance abuse issue and allowing them to volunteer for the program instead of being subject to disciplinary action; and requiring patients admitted to the emergency room for an overdose to be subject to a detailed substance abuse evaluation within 24 hours before discharge.

   Supporters, noting there were 1,256 accidental drug-related deaths in 2015, said this new law is a balanced and practical approach that will improve schools’ approach to teaching kids about drug prevention and increase access to treatment for those who are addicted. They argued it will save lives and spare the heartache of many families by helping to stem the rising tide of drug addiction and drug-related deaths across the state. 

   (A “Yes” vote is for the new law.)

 Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Denise Provost Didn’t Vote Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes  

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