MASSACHUSETTS COMBATTING OPIOIDS

By Bob Katzen

The House 151-0, Senate on a voice vote without a roll call, approved and sent to Gov. Baker a bill aimed at combatting the opioid problem in the Bay State by addressing opioid addiction, prevention and treatment.

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 healthcare providers for persons over the age of 17 experiencing chronic pain; establishes a community-based behavioral health promotion and prevention trust fund to promote positive mental, emotional and behavioral health among children and young adults and to prevent substance use disorders among children and young adults; and establishes a center for police training in crisis intervention to serve as a clearinghouse for best practices in police response to people with mental illness and substance use disorders.

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 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.”

“The Massachusetts Legislature has been steadfast and unwavering in the face of the relentless disease of addiction,” said Rep. Denise Garlick (D-Needham), House Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “This disease is a reality that people face every single day, but we are pouring our best expertise and resources into this fight,” “We are in this for the long haul and we are not backing down – we are in this battle together to save lives.”

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