By Bob Katzen
The Senate 37-0, approved a bill aimed at combatting the opioid problem in the Bay State by addressing opioid addiction, prevention and treatment. The House has approved a different version and a conference committee will try to hammer out a compromise version.
The measure establishes a statewide standing order for Narcan, expanding access to this opioid overdose-reversing drug without an individual prescription; establishes a statewide program to provide remote consultations with primary care practices, nurse practitioners and other health care providers for persons over the age of 17 experiencing chronic pain; establishes a Substance Use Prevention, Education and Screening Trust Fund to support school-based programs that educate children and young persons on alcohol and substance misuse and identify and support children and young persons at risk of alcohol or substance misuse; and requires acute care hospitals that provide emergency services to maintain protocols.
Other provisions require most prescriptions for controlled substances be provided electronically; permit a patient to partially fill a prescription for a schedule II substance and return to the original dispensing pharmacy for the remaining amount of the prescription; and prohibit the use of drug coupons for opiate drugs.
“Despite efforts to suppress the opioid crisis, families across the commonwealth continue to lose their loved ones to substance use disorder,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “This legislation builds upon the work the state has done around opioid misuse and prevention and provides another set of tools to reduce harm, save lives, and increase access to evidence-based treatment. We have a major epidemic on our hands and we have to use everything at our disposal to cure this disease.”