Before the Senate
Special Committee on Drug Abuse and Treatment Options in the Commonwealth
The Massachusetts Medical Society and its physicians share
the Senate’s deep concern with the problem of opioid addiction and
overdoses. We fully support expanded
access to treatment for opiate addiction, and we look forward to seeing the
Senate’s support for expanded treatment in the House budget. We support expedited and automatic enrollment
of all prescribers and pharmacists in the prescription monitoring program and
other improvements in the program to make it a valuable clinical tool in
Concern is justified with the highly addictive potential of
any form of opiates. Certainly the latest FDA approved opioid medication is the
subject of significant attention and legitimate discussions on the potential
impact of its introduction into clinical practice. It is critical that we not
forget the needs of our patients in pain to comprehensive medical care that effectively
helps them to have the best quality of life that their disease or diagnosis
will allow. We need to balance the needs of legitimate patients with pain
against the dangers to the public of opiates being in circulation.
The Medical Society has had several discussions over the
past year on how best to deal with opiate abuse with: John Keenan, Senate
Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Health; the best practices advisory
group within the Department of Public Health created as part of Chapter 244;
the Board of Registration in Medicine and many other concerned parties. We support the good faith efforts of all
parties to contribute to solutions to this multi-faceted problem.
The MMS helped establish the prescription monitoring program
(PMP) in 1992. This database and the Drug Control Program at the DPH are an
important resource to research into what is happening in the Commonwealth with
prescription diversion. The PMP must at a minimum receive all the state drug
registration fees that it collects from prescribers and dispensers. This will
allow improvements to the system’s functionality for prescribers, pharmacists,
researchers, regulators and law enforcement.
We need to enhance patient education on proper disposal of
pain medications that are unused. Too often, a family medicine cabinet can be
the source of a young person’s first experimentation with drugs. The MMS
supports medication disposal programs and efforts to educate the public on how
to safely dispose of unused medications.
We need increased access to treatment on demand for addicts,
including medication assisted treatments such as buprenorphine and methadone.
There are many different approaches to treating opiate addiction. The complexity of the disease of addiction
requires significant resources and multiple options to deal with the many faces
of addiction in the Commonwealth.
We need improved access to overdose antidotes such as Narcan
and the treatment on demand for those who have come so close to death.
The MMS looks forward to the recommendations of
the Special Committee. Physicians will continue to work with lawmakers, public
health officials, patients and all concerned parties in addressing all aspects
of the problem of opioid addiction and overdose.