Sen. Lesser Appointed to New Opioid Committee

BOSTON -- Sen. Eric P. Lesser was appointed Monday to a newly formed Special Senate Committee on Opioid Addiction Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Options.

“Opioid addiction has grown at an alarming rate across Massachusetts, affecting every family,” Sen. Lesser said. “This committee has the important job of determining the best ways to combat this public health crisis.”

According to a letter released by Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, the 10-member committee will “review existing state statutes and funding, as well as the implementation and enforcement of recently enacted substance abuse legislation, and make recommendations to further strengthen opioid abuse prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery options and access to such programs for all residents of the Commonwealth.”

The committee will be chaired by Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster), who also co-chairs the Legislature's Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse and the Joint Committee on Children and Families. Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy) will serve as Vice-Chair. Senator Lesser will be the only member from Western Massachusetts.

“The creation of this special committee couldn’t come at a better time,” Sen. Lesser said. “The legislature did important work on addiction issues last session, and I’m honored to be part of the team that will look for further improvements this term.”

In January, Sen. Lesser introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at curbing opiate abuse. The first was a bill to close the pharmacy shopping loophole by requiring pharmacies to report their distribution of commonly abused prescription drugs within 24 hours, rather than the current 7 days, as part of the Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). Sen. Lesser also sponsored a bill to examine the bulk purchasing and distribution of naloxone (sold under the name Narcan), an anti-overdose medication used by police, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders in heroin overdose situations.