Drug overdose numbers have been steadily climbing around the United States. What was once a problem in only big cities has become an epidemic in even the smallest of towns. No area is safe from the issues that opiates create and on the East Side of Boston, Massachusetts, they are no strangers to the repercussions of opiate abuse. The area has seen climbing numbers of overdoses and the large numbers have persuaded Senator Anthony Petruccelli to take action. Senator Petruccelli began crafting a comprehensive substance abuse bill with his colleagues to help curb opiate addiction.
In mid August 2014, the Massachusetts House and Senate's substance abuse bill was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick. $5 million was set aside for substance abuse education and prevention across the state. It will play a key role in spreading the word about the epidemic and help share information that can deter people from trying opiates which could easily save many lives. Written in the bill are tools that will form policy for supporting continued care and removing the barriers that stand in the way of those seeking effective treatment.
Far too often doors are closed on those that are actively trying to take their lives back from the grips of addiction. Nothing is worse than an addict reaching out for help and being turned away because the resources are just not available for them. With this bill, the resources will be available all over the state and will allow people to get the help they seek.
To curb the public health risk of Schedule II and III drugs, the bill requires the Drug Formulary Commission (DFC) to prepare a drug list of appropriate substitutions. This will include abuse deterrent properties and take into consideration the cost and accessibility for consumers. Insurance companies will be required to cover abuse deterrent drugs listed by the DFC in the same manner that they cover non-abuse deterrent drugs. They can not impose additional costs on patients who receive the abuse deterrent drugs. This is a great first step for addicts to receive the help they need.
If there is no abuse deterrent substitution available, Senator Petruccelli says the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health can issue regulations related to the drug. This includes mandating that a physician review the prescription history of the patient while using the Prescription Monitoring Program. The physician will then have to educate the patient on the risks of abuse of the drug and how it may cause addiction. All of this is to provide the patient with the necessary information for them to understand the seriousness of the prescription medications they will be taking.
In the past, it was common for patients to take a medication without realizing the addiction attributes that many narcotic based opiates painkillers have. “We looked to assemble a package that would increase opportunities for both short and long-term substance abuse recovery, and support a continuum of care,” said Petruccelli. “I wholeheartedly believe that the passage of this bill will offer a renewed sense of hope to those suffering from addiction.”