The Opioid Epidemic in Massachusetts

In order to combat the Opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, the state legislature passed House Bill 4742. This bill requires that after January 1st, 2020, all prescriptions for Schedule II through Schedule VI controlled substances must be issued an electronic prescription from the person issuing the prescription to a pharmacy. This will help prevent fraud, abuse and waste in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

This is not the first effort by the Massachusetts state legislature to combat the Opioid epidemic. Massachusetts was the first state in the U.S. to limit Opioid prescriptions to a 7-day supply for adults getting their first prescription. This law also placed a 7-day limit on any opiate prescription for minors. The Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) allows prescribers to check and see if patients are receiving prescriptions from multiple doctors, and anytime a doctor is prescribing an opiate the PMP must be checked. 

In the first nine months of 2021, there were 1,211 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths in the state. The Massachusetts Department of Health estimates that there will be an additional 362 to 441 deaths before the year is over. Other efforts by the Massachusetts state legislature include a mandate for hospitals to administer a substance abuse evaluation to anyone who shows up to the emergency room that is potentially suffering from opioid overdose. Schools also must conduct verbal screenings of students for substance abuse in order to reduce the amount of opioid addicts. 

While these laws are all very effective, there are a few exceptions. Schools, parents and students have the ability to decline the verbal substance abuse screenings. Initial opioid prescriptions for chronic pain, cancer pain and palliative care can also be given for a supply larger than 7 days.

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