Developments in fight against opioid abuse in Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– Top leaders throughout New England are pushing for changes to opioid drug labels.

This week, Governors from all six New England states are asking the Food and Drug Administration to increase warnings on opioid drug labels.

The governor’s wrote letters to the FDA Monday, in which they argue the stronger labels are needed following a spike in the number of deaths from heroin and opioid drug abuse.

The governors wrote they want to see the labels to make sure both doctor and patient understand the risk of addiction, the risk of overdose, that the drugs may cause neonatal abstinence syndrome, and the risk of death while taking the medications.

The governors also said abuse of opioid painkillers often leads to heroin addiction.

Also this week, Attorney General Maura Healy announced the company that makes the overdose reversal drug naloxone will pay the state to offset the drug’s cost.

The California based company that makes the drug said Monday they will pay $325,000 to Massachusetts. Healy said that’s enough money to pay for roughly 10-thousand units of naloxone.

The money will go to the state’s bulk purchasing trust fund that was set up specifically to make Narcan, the nasal spray version of the naloxone, more available.

Healy has expressed fears about paying for the drug siting the cost has increased dramatically in the last year.

Health officials report more than 1,200 people died from opioid overdoses in 2014, roughly 300 more than in 2013, and nearly double the number in 2012.

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