Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District

May 13, 2014

Senate Passes Bill to Increase Opportunities for Long-Term Substance Abuse Recovery


(Boston)– The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation to increase opportunities for long-term substance abuse recovery in the Commonwealth by supporting a continuum of care and removing barriers that stand in the way of effective treatment.

“Between the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee and the Special Senate Committee on Drug Addiction Treatment, I’ve heard too many heartbreaking stories from people all across the Commonwealth detailing how drug addiction has wreaked havoc on their lives and families”, said Senator Joan Lovely, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “This bill calls for a variety of measures designed to make substance abuse treatment services more accessible and it is a significant step toward improving the way Massachusetts helps those struggling with addiction. I look forward to continuing my work on this critically important issue.”

To curb the public health risk of Schedule II and III drugs, the bill requires the Drug Formulary Commission to prepare a drug formulary of appropriate substitutions, which must include abuse deterrent properties and consideration of cost and accessibility for consumers. Insurance carriers are required to cover abuse deterrent drugs listed on the formulary in the same manner that they cover non-abuse deterrent drugs and cannot impose additional cost burdens on consumers who receive abuse deterrent drugs.

If there is no abuse deterrent substitution available, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health can issue regulations related to the drug, including mandating that a physician review the patient’s prescription history, check the Prescription Monitoring Program, educate the patient on addiction, limit the quantity of pills and conduct a risk assessment before prescribing. The Commissioner is also authorized to schedule a substance as Schedule I for up to one year if it poses an imminent hazard to public safety and is not already listed in a different schedule.

The bill strengthens the Prescription Monitoring Program by requiring physicians to receive training on the Program before renewing their licenses. It also requires them to consult with the Program before writing a prescription on an annual basis for patients who receive ongoing treatment of a controlled substance and before writing a new or replacement prescription.

In the event that a death is caused by a controlled substance, the Chief Medical Examiner is required to file a report with the FDA’s MedWatch Program and the Department of Public Health and directs DPH to review the Program upon receiving a report.

The bill creates a commission to review prescription painkiller limitations by insurance carriers, including the system implemented by Blue Cross Blue Shield, and report recommendations and proposed legislation to the Legislature.

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.





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