Massachusetts Physicians Resolve to Become Part of Opioid Abuse Solution

By: | May-28-15

The Massachusetts Medical Society recently committed to educating providers on solutions to prescription drug abuse. (Photo: iStockphoto)

The Story: The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) announced plans last week to launch a comprehensive campaign to educate prescribers and the public about the safe and responsible prescribing and handling of opioids.

NACDS has consistently advocated for collaboration among government agencies, patient advocates and pharmacy to help find solutions to the complex problems of prescription drug abuse and patient access. 

What brought this about?

In response to stark numbers involving opioid deaths, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R-MA) appointed a working group in February 2015 to hold public meetings, assess the resources devoted to the problem, and submit specific recommendations on the problem. Initial feedback from the public meetings revealed that there are too many prescriptions being written for narcotic drugs, and not enough resources to treat those who are addicted. The governor called on all healthcare practitioners who prescribe opioids to consult the state’s prescription monitoring program (PMP), which is designed to track patient medication use, physician prescription practices, and pharmacy dispensing in order to flag suspicious behavior.

The MMS’ proposed guidelines to address the opioid epidemic mark a significant change because previously the MMS was reluctant to embrace state PMPs.

What’s the proposed solution?

In one word: education. The MMS campaign will have three components: a set of guidelines to help physicians make the best decisions for their patients; free education resources for all prescribers to help inform their judgments; and storage and disposal information for patients and their families.

The upshot?

The guidelines emphasize proactive solutions, such as discussing family and medical history and outlining goals and parameters for treatment. Significantly, the guidelines also recognize that patients who are chronically in pain have “special circumstances that do not yield readily to hard and fast rules.” The MMS says care for those patients care should be based on long-held medical beliefs focused on “relief of suffering.”

NACDS has consistently advocated for collaboration among government agencies, patient advocates and pharmacy to help find solutions to the complex problems of prescription drug abuse and patient access.

NACDS will continue to monitor developments in Massachusetts — and other states—on this important issue, especially as the discussion continues following the release of the governor’s work group recommendations, which are expected in the next several weeks.

2016-12-06T13:24:18+00:00May-28-15|Categories: Photo|Tags: |