Lawmakers making new effort to fight substance abuse

Senate Pres. Therese Murray (at center) ,surrounded by other lawmakers, announce a plan to deal with the substance abuse crisis in Massachusetts.

BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Senate took steps to make it easier for drug abusers to seek help, and plan to add restrictions before physicians can prescribe opiates to patients.

According to Therese Murray, (D) Senate President, “We have to break the cycle of addiction before it breaks us and the time to act is now.”

After hearing months of testimony, Senate President Murray announced a bill to tackle the state’s deadly drug epidemic. The plan would require insurance companies to cover alternate drugs that can’t be crushed or smoked.

Sen. John Keenan, (D) Committee on Drug Abuse, told 22News, “When a physician writes a prescription and that prescription goes to a pharmacy, the pharmacist will have the ability to substitute the abuse-deterrent drug off the formulary for the non-abusive deterrent drug.”

Physicians would have to receive training on the state-mandated Prescription Monitoring Program before renewing their license.

The bill will expand insurance coverage on treatment and recovery services and make seeking help easier for abusers.

Sen. Jen Flanagan, (D) Committee on Drug Abuse, said, “We’re here because we need to save lives and we need at the same time to prevent the younger generation from falling into the same steps that their family members have fallen into across the Commonwealth.”

Stressing the importance of taking action now, during the month of March, 125 infants were born addicted to drugs in Massachusetts.

The Senate will take a vote on the bill on Tuesday and additional recommendations will made in the Senate Budget Proposal.

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