BOSTON – In an attempt to address the growing state opioid crisis, State Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk), also a Plainville firefighter and EMT as well as a board member of the local SAFE Coalition, was proud to support legislation that passed in the House of Representatives on July 11th to expand Massachusetts’ comprehensive 2016 opioid law by increasing treatment options for individuals suffering from drug addiction. The bill also included a partial fill prescription initiative that is based off a bill Dooley had previously filed.
H.4725 An Act for prevention and access to appropriate care and treatment of addiction places new mandates on practitioners and pharmacies prescribing opioids and other controlled substances, while taking steps to ensure qualified treatment facilities are available to serve those in need by enhancing the regulatory and licensing authority of the Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the Department of Public Health (DPH).
The bill also includes a partial fill prescription initiative that Dooley originally proposed in a stand-alone bill. The program would allow patients to only partially fill prescriptions for certain addictive drugs to test out them out and see how they work. Patients would then be allowed to fill the rest of the prescription without additional payment. Dooley hopes that this will cut down on the number of excess pills in people’s home that are, often, ripe for misuse.
“The opioid crisis is by far and away the number one public health crisis in the Commonwealth” said Dooley. “As a firefighter and EMT I see this issue plaguing our communities here in the 9th Norfolk District. This isn’t just a city issue, it isn’t just a rural issue, it isn’t just a regional issue, it is a statewide plague that we must work to stop. I am proud to have not only supported but also contributed to this important bill. It is by no means the last step, however. We must continue to work to fight this societal evil.”
Dooley also noted that he thinks the bill could have been even stronger. He sponsored an amendment that would allow a treating physician to hold a patient involuntarily for 72 hours for treatment, evaluation, and counseling if they are experiencing an opiate-related overdose and had experienced at least one other within the last 30 days. The measure, which Governor Charlie Baker had expressed support for, was shot down by the majority party. “I was disappointed in the majority party for rejecting this measure” said Dooley. “This is our last substantive chance to legislatively address this crisis until next year, and I would have liked to have made it as strong as possible. I hope that this provision is included in the Senate version of the bill, and we are able to work it into the final compromise bill.”