MMS Testimony In Opposition To H.3811, An Act Regulating Oxycontin Prescriptions For Minors

Before The Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) wishes to be recorded in opposition to H.3811, legislation that would prohibit physicians and other prescribers from administering, utilizing, dispensing any medication or prescription containing oxycontin to any person under the age of 17. The bill would also prohibit pharmacies and pharmacists from issuing, dispensing or distributing medications or prescriptions containing oxycontin to any person under the age of 17.  

This legislation was filed in response to the federal Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent approval of OxyContin for some children as young as 11.  The MMS wishes to stress that does not mean doctors will prescribe the drug to children more often.  All physicians approach prescribing for children very cautiously, do so only when necessary, and in communication with the minor’s parents or guardians.

Oxycontin, and other long acting opioids, are not medications that are frequently used in the pediatric population, nor would we expect it would be in the future.  That's not the indicated usage for this type of long-acting medication. It has been used in an off-label fashion in the past, in cases such as children or adolescents who have severe and long-lasting pain from conditions such as cancer. But that does not mean that any typical pediatrician or family physician will be prescribing long-acting opioids for routine pain problems.

The Medical Society shares the sponsor’s concern with the opioid epidemic.  Indeed, the MMS has released Opioid Therapy and Physician Communication Guidelines for physicians.  The Guidelines represent one part of comprehensive campaign to educate physicians and patients about safe prescribing and the storage and disposal of prescription pain medications.  A copy of the Guidelines are attached.  As part of the campaign, the MMS will also offer free educational resources for prescribers to help inform their judgments and information on the critical aspects of storage and disposal of prescription drugs for patients and families.  All three components of the campaign are included in a new website addressing opioid and prescription drug abuse, www.massmed.org/SmartandSafe.

Additionally, the MMS has worked closely with Governor Baker’s administration, the EOHHS Opioid Taskforce, and the House and Senate on reducing prescription drug abuse.  The MMS feels strongly that working on these efforts cooperatively will prove more effective in the battle against prescription drug abuse than a statutory limitation on physician prescribing, which is strongly opposed by the Society.  Physicians should, within the scope of their practice and training, be allowed to use their medical judgment in the use of any medication available through FDA approval.

 

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