MA Legislature Takes Preventative Approach to Opioid Crisis

On Thursday, October 1, 2015 the Massachusetts Senate approved a bill (S 2020) that takes a preventative approach to addressing the opioid crisis in Massachusetts. The bill allows pharmacists to fill schedule II prescription drugs, the highest risk drugs, in amounts less than what is prescribed in order to reduce the availability of unused and excess pills. The bill provides for mandated verbal screenings (SBIRT) of middle and high school students by trained staff to screen for signs of risk or drug use in order to prevent future drug abuse and to encourage early intervention. It also provides additional training for physicians on best practices for prescribing painkillers and on alternative treatments for pain, and creates an expanded unused-drug collection program.

On Wednesday, September 30, 2015 the House passed a $360 million spending bill which contains $27m in additional funding to address the opioid crisis. Governor Baker announced to reporters at the end of September 2015 that he plans to file his opioid bill the week of October 5, 2015. Governor Baker told reporters his legislation contains many components, which he believes are complimentary to what was filed in the legislature.

Legislation passed by the legislature in 2014 aimed at increasing access to treatment for opioid addiction went into effect on the first day of this month, October 2015.

MPHA is closely watching developments on this legislation. If you have questions or want to learn more, please contact our policy director, Maddie Ribble at mribble@mapublichealth.org.