Massachusetts Medical Society: DPH Formulary Commission Issues Prescribing Resource

DPH Formulary Commission Issues Prescribing Resource



DPH Formulary Commission Issues Prescribing Resource
The Drug Formulary Commission, appointed by Governor Baker and staffed by the Department of Public Health (DPH), has released a resource for physicians outlining FDA-approved, non-opioid drug products that are effective pain management alternatives and have a lesser potential for abuse than Schedule II and III opioid drug products. This non-opioid drug resource, required by the Governor’s opioid bill passed in March of this year, will be updated annually by the Commission. The list is intended as a resource for prescribers. It includes over 100 non-opioid medications that are either indicated for pain or have a recognized off-label use for pain.

Did You Miss the Interim Meeting? Read the Special Edition Online!
If you missed the MMS Interim Meeting, click here to catch up with the news by reading Vital Signs This Week: Special Edition, which contains reports on new MMS policies, MMS President Dr. James Gessner’s report to the membership, educational events, and more. 

MMS and DPH Launch MassPAT CME Course
MMS and the Department of Public Health (DPH) announce an online CME course “MassPAT: Incorporating the New PMP into Your Practice” to address various legal and regulatory requirements and to help prescribers implement use of the Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool (MassPAT) into daily clinical workflow. The course also addresses how prescribers can use MassPAT to inform best prescribing habits.  Click here for information.

Vital Signs December/January Issue Now Available Online
Click here to read the December/January issue of Vital Signs online. Top stories include a report on the MMS forum on the opioid crisis and the State of the State forum on health care; a report on MACRA and what physicians need to know; and trends facing physicians in the New Year. 

MMS Awards - Nominations Due December 12
Do you know that MMS recognizes its members by presenting numerous awards annually? Do you have a colleague who deserves to be nominated for their outstanding work or service to the community?  Do you know a medical student or resident who is worthy of recognition due to cutting edge innovation? Click here for information.

Educational Programs and Events

Unless otherwise noted, all events are held at MMS headquarters, 860 Winter St., Waltham, MA.  Visit to view our full calendar of upcoming live CME activities.  

Running on Empty? Physicians’ Path to Enjoying Life and Medicine More
Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. – LIVE WEBINAR
The above activities have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
Featured Online CME Activities – Risk Management Credit
End-of-Life Care

The above activities have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
For additional risk management online CME activities, visit

This Week in Health Care

Opioid Overdoses Rise in Bay State
The opioid epidemic continues to rise in Massachusetts, and police are finding drug users overdosing in cars, libraries, in the bathrooms of fast-food restaurants and churches.  In Lowell alone, according to Lowell Police,  the city has had 55 fatal opioid overdoses through mid-November, surpassing last year's total.
Gov. Baker Slashes Cape Anti-Addiction Funds
Gov. Charlie Baker slashed hundreds of thousands of dollars for opioid abuse prevention and treatment services on the Cape and Islands this week, including seven school-based anti-addiction programs, part of a $98 million reduction to "earmarks" in the state budget, including health and homeless funds and tourism services. 
Pilot Program Seeks to Help Addicted Injured Workers
A two-year pilot program, designed to help people with injured workers who are being treated with opioid medication, may be dashed due to an insurance company that seeks to stop payment for the opioid.
Closing the Budget Gap: Health Money Swept into General Fund 
The $53 million in Commonwealth Care Trust Fund is part of $145 million apparently being swept into the state's General Fund to address a gap in this year's $39.25 billion budget, as the fund's trustee - Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore - and the agency whose programs it supports have declined to answer questions about why the money is available for general spending purposes.
AG Healey Vows to Protect State Health Plan
AG Maura Healey pledged to protect Massachusetts’ health care reform even though if Obamacare is repealed, there could be less federal funding to the state to help consumers pay for insurance. Insurers may be forced to provide plans that offer subsidies, without any hope of receiving federal money to pay for those subsidies.
Consumers Shop for Alternative Health Plans
Of the 55,000 consumers facing premium increases higher than 15 percent, nearly 13,000 have chosen an alternative plan, as calls and visits to customer service have increased, along with website usage.
Central Mass. Gun Buy-Back Program Continues Through Weekend
Goods for Guns, a gun buy-back program founded in 2002 and co-sponsored by the district attorney's office and UMass Memorial Medical Center, will continue to purchase guns from area residents through this weekend.
Major Shift in Death Certificate Revisions Announced
Massachusetts Chief Medical Examiner announced a major shift in how his office handles cases in which forensic pathologists retract their findings on the cause of death — a move that follows controversial rulings that derailed murder trials.
Study: Depression Common among Med Students
A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association provided evidence that future doctors suffer depression, or depressive symptoms, at higher rates than the general population.
Gov. Baker Proposes $98M in Budget Cuts
Gov. Charlie Barker proposed budget cuts to state government programs that include health care for the poor, suicide prevention, the State Police crime laboratory, literacy programs, state parks, and the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield to Receive $40M from Obamacare
Blue Cross/Blue Shield is set to receive $40 million more in risk adjustment payments for 2015, on top of the $40 million the insurer initially received. 
Marijuana Law Delayed
State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said legislators are discussing delaying aspects of the measure to legalize marijuana.
Boston has Fewer Gun Deaths, More Drug Fatalities
Big Cities Health Coaltion, a group that compiles health stats in the U.S., reported that Boston had an overdose mortality rate of 16.6 percent, almost 4 times higher than the U.S. average at 4.3 percent.
Coalition Explores Health Care for Women Addicts
Providing health care for women and their children with drug abuse or mental illness is being explored by a coalition including Middlesex District Attorney Maria T. Ryan’s office, Hallmark Health System, and Jewish Family & Children’s Service.
DPH Official: HIV Rate Declining
The rate of new HIV cases in Massachusetts has been "coming down across the board," said Dawn Fakuda, a DPH official, but progress appears to be much slower for minorities infected by the virus.
Bay State Expected to Weather Trump’s Healthcare Disruptions
President-elect Trump and Republican control of Congress will likely mean sweeping changes in healthcare policy across the U.S., but in Massachusetts, state laws that pre-date federal healthcare reform could help prevent major disruptions.
Children's Hospital Expansion Faces Opposition
Health insurers are opposed to Boston Children's Hospital’s plans to expand, urging state regulators to reject the building project because it would drive up medical spending.

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