Issue Background

An Act relative to substance use treatment, education, and prevention

Opioid Bill Passes with Changes to Prescriptions

In an effort to address the opioid abuse epidemic in the Bay State, state legislators have voted last week to pass an updated version of An Act Relative to Substance Use Treatment, Education, and Prevention. Through the MDS’s efforts, the final legislation allows providers to prescribe a 7-day supply of opiates to an adult patient the first time and always only a 7-day supply for minor patients. 

By now you’ve probably heard of Governor Baker’s legislative proposal regarding opiates (H.3817 - An Act relative to substance use treatment, education, and prevention). The Massachusetts Dental Society applauds Governor Baker’s leadership in fighting the substance abuse epidemic in Massachusetts. Last year, it is estimated that over 1,000 residents died from an opioid related overdose. While we recognize that the Commonwealth can do more in terms of prevention, treatment, and education, the Governor’s proposal missed the mark on prescription limits, PMP usage, and the minimum number of pain management CE hours required. 

On March 8 the House and Senate compromised on a final version of An Act relative to substance use treatment, education, and prevention. The governor signed the final legislation on March 14. Throughout the process MDS government affairs staff met with legislators and committee staff to ensure the views of the dental profession were considered every step of the way to passage. Furthermore, the MDS and the MA dental school deans partnered with the Governor and his administration to develop core competency pain management requirements for dental students. 

The original proposal limited practitioners to prescribing a maximum of a 72-hour supply of opiates. Also, providers would have been required to attain 5 hours of CE in pain management each renewal cycle. Lastly, the first proposal required prescribers or their designee to access the PMP prior to prescribing an opiate.

Through the MDS’s efforts, the final legislation allows providers to prescribe a 7 day supply of opiates to an adult patient the first time and always only a 7 day supply for minor patients. Furthermore, the legislation removed the CE hour requirement for pain management. The legislature kept the original provision of the checking the PMP before all opiate prescriptions. This specific item is expected to only take effect in the fall 2016, which is after the new PMP is currently scheduled to be released.

Key Issues

Governor Baker’s Proposal

Final Version

First time opiate prescription limit

72-hour supply of an opiate to a patient the first time the practitioner prescribes an opiate to that patient

Adult patients being prescribed an opiate for first time - 7-day supply maximum.

Minors being prescribed an opiate at any time -  7-day supply maximum

CE Hours

Requires at least 5 hours of CE in pain management each renewal cycle

No CE hour minimum in pain management

Accessing the PMP

Requires every practitioner to use the PMP prior to prescribing an opiate

Requires every practitioner to use the PMP prior to prescribing an opiate