Massachusetts has taken a major step forward in its efforts to stem the tide of opioid addiction in the state. On March 14th, Governor Charlie Baker signed a comprehensive law that will change how opioids are prescribed and further educate the public about the dangers of these drugs.
Often prescribed for pain management after an injury, prescription opioids are known to cause dependency and lead to addiction. More and more, this dependency is leading to heroin use and a staggering number of opioid overdose deaths – more than 28,000 in 2014 alone.
To combat this problem, Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to limit opioid prescriptions to a 7-day supply for first-time adult prescriptions. The law also places a 7-day limit on any opiate prescription for minors. The law does make some exceptions to this rule, and also allows longer-term supplies for people with cancer, chronic pain or those who need palliative care.
Other notable provisions include:
- Prescribers must check the Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) before prescribing a Schedule II or Schedule III drug. The PMP is designed to keep patients from receiving multiple prescriptions from different doctors.
- Physicians and pharmacists must inform patients about the dangers of opioid addiction when a drug is prescribed and dispensed.
- Anyone who administers the anti-overdose drug naloxone to someone suspected of overdosing is protected from civil lawsuits.
- Screening mechanisms will be created that schools can use to identify students who may be at risk for addiction. Opioid education will also be incorporated into high school athletics and driver education.
Click here for more information on the provisions Massachusetts is putting in place to stop opioid abuse and save lives.