Thursday, March 10, 2016
A bill aimed at breaking the epidemic of opioid drug addiction was enacted by the State Senate today. The substance addiction and prevention bill sets a framework for opiate prescription limitations, education initiatives at public schools and medical schools, and prevention efforts to monitor prescriptions and patient supports to dispose of unwanted medications.
“The abuse and proliferation of opiates in our society poses a serious and continuing threat to the health and safety of our communities and that threat demands comprehensive and effective responses; this bill will directly oppose the spread of opioid abuse and support those who need access to treatment,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “The unanimous support in the House and Senate demonstrates our united efforts to move forward with the best bill possible.”
The bill limits first-time opiate prescriptions to seven days, with exceptions for chronic pain management, cancer, and palliative care. The state’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) must be consulted, and a patient record created, each time a medical professional issues any opiate.
It also provides the option of a limited fill which allows patients, in consultation with their doctor, to request a lesser amount than indicated on the script; however, this language is permissive and pharmacists may use their discretion.
Lawmakers included a provision in the bill offered by member of the Senate Republican Caucus to empower a patient, in consultation with their doctor, to request a lesser amount or “partial fill” of an opioid from the pharmacy. In addition, patients can declare that they do not what to receive opioids by instructing that a non-opiate directive be documented in their medical records.
“I am proud to have joined my colleagues in the Legislature and the Administration to work on this important bill,” said Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth) and member of the conference committee which unified the House and Senate versions of the bill. “I believe we have passed legislation that will dramatically improve the lives of those affected by substance use issues and educate people about the dangers of addiction in order to prevent this scourge from affecting future generations.”
This bill also: • Provides substance abuse hospital evaluations within 24 hours after an overdose; • Increases insurance transparency to further behavioral and abuse treatment access; • Requires that contact information for all insurers be posted on the bed-finder tool website and updates the law to ensure the site is available 24 hours a day; • Requires that patients being discharged from substance addiction receive information on all FDA-approved medication-assisted therapies; • Ensures civil-liability protection to those who administer anti-overdose medicine Narcan; • Updates the training guidelines for all practitioners who prescribe controlled substances;
The bill now goes to Governor Baker’s desk for his signature.