Massachusetts Medical Society: Testimony in Support of An Act Relative to The Prescription Monitoring Program

Testimony in Support of An Act Relative to The Prescription Monitoring Program

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) wishes to be recorded in support of the House bill 3486 and Senate bill 1277, An Act Relative to the Prescription Monitoring Program.

The Massachusetts prescription monitoring program, known as MassPAT, is relied upon by prescribers across the state as an accurate list of all controlled substance prescriptions dispensed at outpatient pharmacies in Massachusetts. It is a critical tool for physicians to understand what prescriptions are being taken by their patients. Unfortunately, there is an important gap in the data uploaded into the MassPAT: it does not contain methadone dispensed for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Methadone is required by federal law to be dispensed by medical order at certified opioid treatment programs (OTPs), rather than by prescription at outpatient pharmacies. This bill would amend the prescription monitoring program statute to allow opioid treatment programs to submit prescription information for methadone used to treat opioid use disorder.

Many physicians have noted that the absence of methadone information in the prescription monitoring program poses significant patient safety concerns. Users of the PMP believe they are seeing a complete list of controlled substances taken by a patient, and the lack of methadone information is a glaring omission. Methadone prescribed for treatment of pain is included in the prescription monitoring program, as is buprenorphine, another medically assisted treatment used to treat opioid use disorder.

The primary barrier that has precluded OTPs from reporting data regarding methadone usage is a federal privacy law, 42 CFR Part II. H/3486.S.1277 acknowledges the challenges placed by the federal privacy laws and encourages pathways toward reporting of methadone that do not conflict with federal law. Notably, the federal government in a current rulemaking has proposed a set of changes to 42 CFR Part II that would allow OTPs to enroll in state prescription drug monitoring programs and submit the dispensing data for controlled substances with patient consent, and consistent with state law. We believe this law would provide clear intent to OTPs that if federal privacy laws and regulations are changed, there is clear intent by the state to encourage reporting. We therefore encourage favorable reporting of this bill.

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