Gov. Baker’s Opioid Working Group Recommends Measures Filed by Senator Eric Lesser

BOSTON--A report and recommendations released this week by Gov. Charlie Baker’s Opioid Addiction Working Group includes two policies Senator Eric P. Lesser filed as legislation at the beginning of the 2015-2016 legislative session. “Opioid addiction is hurting families in every corner of Massachusetts and continues to be a public health emergency. This report includes several important strategies for combating it,” Lesser said. “I am glad these recommendations include two key measures I filed at the start of my term. I look forward to working with Governor Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey to implement these policies.”

Among the report’s key intervention initiatives is a measure that would shorten the Prescription Monitoring Program seven-day reporting period to 24 hours, helping prevent the practice of pharmacy shopping. This measure was filed by Senator Lesser in January and unanimously passed by the Senate in May.

Governor Baker's report also recommends establishing a system for bulk-purchasing of the anti-overdose drug Narcan, to better equip first responders and others with this life-saving medicine. Senator Lesser filed a Narcan bulk-purchasing bill in January, and both the House and Senate passed bulk-purchasing plans this spring.

A few weeks ago, Senator Lesser wrote to Governor Baker's working group requesting the inclusion of both Narcan bulk purchasing and the 24-hour reporting requirement in the Governor's recommendations.

In addition to these two programs, the working group also recommended several other measures that are similar to legislation Senator Lesser is co-sponsoring, including: a statewide drug take-back program to encourage the safe disposal of excess medication, the option for patients to choose to fill prescriptions for addictive pain killers in lower quantities, and finally the implementation of electronic prescribing for opioids.

Opiates now kill more people in Massachusetts than car accidents and guns combined. More than 1,000 people died from opioid overdoses last year, a 33 percent increase over 2012.

From 2000 to 2012 the number of unintentional fatal opioid overdoses in Massachusetts increased by 90 percent.