Massachusetts Medical Society: Testimony in Opposition to An Act to Update The Prescription Monitoring Program Before The Committee on Public Health

Testimony in Opposition to An Act to Update The Prescription Monitoring Program Before The Committee on Public Health

Testimony in Opposition to H.3762 An Act to Update The Prescription Monitoring Program  Before The Committee on Public Health

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) wishes to be recorded in opposition to H.3762, An Act to Update the Prescription Monitoring Program, filed by Representative Richard Haggerty.

H.3762 would require the Department of Public Health to issue regulations to fine required users of the Prescription Monitoring Program, now known as the Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool, or “MassPAT”, for not checking the program prior to prescribing medications, as required by Section 24A of Chapter 94C.

The Department established MassPAT in 1992, becoming the second state in the nation to implement a computer-based, Electronic Data Transfer (EDT) system to collect prescribing and dispensing information on pharmaceuticals (narcotics, stimulants, sedatives) with the highest potential for abuse and are, consequently, among those most sought for illicit and inappropriate use. The MMS is proud to have been an early proponent of the program and to have worked with the administration, the legislature and other stakeholders on the development, implementation and usage of the program by physicians.

Since the launch of MassPAT, over six and a half million searches have been conducted by health care providers and the program now links Massachusetts’ patient prescription data sharing capability with 31 other states including all of New England, New York and the District of Columbia. Moreover, between April and June 2018, searches by registered prescribers to MassPAT increased by 100,000 searches over the previous quarter, making it the largest increase in searches conducted in a single quarter. (Department of Public Health, Opioid-related Overdose Deaths among MA Residents - November 2019).

Equally important is the fact that opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts have fallen steadily over the past three quarters even as the presence of fentanyl in overdose deaths reached an all-time high, according to the latest quarterly opioid-related deaths report released by the Department of Public Health (DPH). In 2018, DPH estimates a 1% decrease in the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths compared

with 2017. This follows an estimated 3% decline in the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths from 2016 to 2017. The rate for 2018 represents an estimated 4% decrease from 2016. (Department of Public Health, Opioid-related Overdose Deaths among MA Residents - November 2019).

The Commonwealth already has rigorous processes to ensure all prescribers comply with MassPAT. The Department of Public Health regularly convenes in Medical Review Group which is tasked with reviewing any concerning prescribing and compliance issues and determining whether to report them to the appropriate licensing board. The Medical Review Group reports annually its actions to the Legislature.

The opioid epidemic continues to be a tragic public health crisis that has taken scores of lives in our Commonwealth and while we have much work to do, there continue to be trends related to a decline in overdose deaths and a decline in the number of opioid prescriptions written by physicians. In light of the above data showing the effectiveness of MassPAT, and current enforcement by the DPH and relevant licensing boards, the MMS does not believe any statutory changes to MassPAT are necessary at this time.

The MMS urges the Committee on Public Health to report H.3762 out of Committee unfavorably.

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