Massachusetts Medical Society adopts new policies on recreational marijuana, climate change, drug pricing, concussions, epinephrine

Contact: Richard Gulla
781-434-7101
rgulla@mms.org

Physicians also approve survey of membership on attitudes about aid-in-dying   

Waltham, Mass. – Resolutions on recreational marijuana, aid-in-dying, climate change, drug pricing, epinephrine auto-injectors, and concussions were among those of many proposals adopted as new policies by members of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s House of Delegates at its Interim Meeting held on Saturday, December 3.  

The Interim Meeting brings together hundreds of Massachusetts physicians from across the state to consider specific resolutions on public health policy, health care delivery, and organizational administration by the Society’s House of Delegates, its policy-making body. Resolutions adopted by the delegates become policies of the organization.

Among the new policies adopted by the organization:

Recreational marijuana – Following voter approval of recreational marijuana in November, physicians adopted a resolution stating that Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) will actively engage with state policymakers to advocate for legislative and regulatory policies on legal marijuana that will protect public health. Such advocacy will include efforts to set policies that would (1)  prevent youth access to marijuana, including restrictions on marketing and advertising to persons under 21 year of age; (2) prevent impaired driving; (3) urge the state to conduct and publish research on the clinical and public health effects of recreational marijuana; (4) set safety and quality standards for recreational marijuana; and (5) direct adequate funding for health and public health interventions related to marijuana, including research, abuse prevention education and treatment. 

The resolution also directed the MMS to create a resource tool to help physicians respond to the needs of their patients who may be using, or asking about marijuana, and that the MMS work with the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards and other interested parties to develop and model regulations for commercial and recreational marijuana for cities and towns.

Aid-in-Dying – Delegates approved a resolution directing the MMS to conduct a survey of its members to determine the attitudes of physicians and physicians-in-training in Massachusetts toward medical aid-in-dying. The survey is scheduled to be conducted in the first half of 2017. 

Climate change - Physicians approved a policy adapted from the American Medical Association stating that the MMS agrees with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report that states that “human influence on the climate system is clear, that recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems, that climate change will amplify existing risks and create new risks for natural and human systems, and that risks are unevenly distributed and greater for disadvantaged people and communities.”  The policy also states that the MMS recognizes the importance of physician involvement in policymaking at all levels and supports efforts to mitigate climate change to protect human health.

Drug pricing – Acknowledging the soaring prices of drugs and attempting to increase transparency surrounding drug pricing, MMS delegates adopted a policy to advocate to the appropriate Federal agencies that regulate direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs that such advertising be required to state the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Epinephrine Auto-Injectors - Delegates approved a resolution declaring MMS support of schools that use their own emergency supply of epinephrine auto-injectors instead of requiring parents to purchase individually labeled auto-injectors for each child and that each student and employee who has life-threatening allergies be required to provide their school with an individualized health care plan.  The resolution further stated that the MMS communicate its policy regarding support for school-supplied epinephrine auto-injectors and the required health care plans to school organizations throughout the state.

Concussions – MMS physicians adapted policies from the American Medical Association and American Association of Neurological Surgeons on concussions, stating that the MMS would continue to work with other organizations to increase athletic safety by promoting concussion awareness; developing a program of public education stressing the importance of prevention, diagnosis, and proper treatment of concussion and brain-related injuries; and ensuring that an athlete exhibiting symptoms is properly evaluated, treated and cleared before returning to play. The policy also included the support of the adoption of evidence-based, age-specific guidelines on the evaluation and management of concussions for use by physicians, health professionals, and athletic organizations.

Among other policies adopted by the delegates were those covering electronic health records, reimbursement for telemedicine services, and the organization’s bylaws and administrative procedures, including diversity within the organization and committee and leadership representation.

View the full list of resolutions.

The Massachusetts Medical Society, with more than 25,000 physicians and student members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. The Society, under the auspices of NEJM Group, publishes the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading global medical journal and web site, and NEJM Journal Watch alerts and publications covering 13 specialties. The Society is also a leader in continuing medical education for health care professionals throughout Massachusetts, conducting a variety of medical education programs for physicians and health care professionals. Founded in 1781, MMS is the oldest continuously operating medical society in the country. 

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