Senate Opioid Committee Releases Legislation to Address Addiction Epidemic

Legislation focuses on limiting minors’ access to prescription drugs and expanding requirements for drug and insurance companies

Senator  Lesser announced that the Massachusetts Senate Special Committee on Opioid Addiction, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Options has issued legislation to address the substance abuse crisis in the Commonwealth.

In particular, the legislation seeks to limit the excessive number of unused prescription pills that have become the primary gateway to heroin addiction. Nationally, 45% of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers, according to the CDC.

“This legislation includes several key provisions to hold drug companies accountable, keep children safe from prescription pills and stem the tide of addiction in our state. It also provides additional tools for schools, public health and safety officials to combat this epidemic,” said Senator Lesser, who is the sole Western Massachusetts senator on the committee.

Specific provisions in the legislation include:

  • Screening students for substance abuse issues in school
  • Allowing partial fills of prescription drugs so unwanted opiates are not left inside homes
  • Requiring  drug manufacturers to establish drug take-back programs
  • Requiring each insurance carrier to develop a prescription drug safety plan
  • Protecting “Good Samaritans” who administer Narcan (overdose-reversal drug) from civil liability.

A full copy of the legislation is available here.

The Special Senate Committee was formed at the start of this year’s legislative session in response to the substantial increase in opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports that there were 1,008 deaths from opioid overdoses in 2014, a 33 percent jump from 2012. Opioids kill more people in Massachusetts than car accidents and guns combined.

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