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Lyons, Republicans In Legislature Want Action On Baker's Opiate Bill

Nov 08, 2015 02:01AM ● By Bill Gilman

State Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover.

)Editor's note: The following information was submitted by the office of State Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover.)

BOSTON – Citing an alarming rise in drug overdose deaths across the Commonwealth, State Rep. Jim Lyons (R-Andover) and members of the House and Senate Republican Caucuses are calling on Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo to schedule a vote on Governor Baker’s opioid bill and other pending substance abuse legislation prior to the Legislature’s winter break on November 18.

The request was included in a letter hand-delivered to the Senate President’s and House Speaker’s offices today.  The letter was signed by all 34 Republican state Representatives and all 6 Republican state Senators, including Representative Lyons.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of moving quickly to pass this bill,” the letter states.  “Time is of the essence, as an average of four people die from an opioid overdose in Massachusetts every day.  Our concern is that allowing this bill to languish until after the House and Senate resume formal sessions in January will result in many more lives lost to drugs.  Any prolonged delay in taking action on the Governor’s opioid bill is unnecessary, and can lead to preventable loss and disruption of lives, as many of these opioid-related deaths could actually be avoided using the prevention and treatment guidelines outlined in the administration’s proposal.”

The letter cites data from the Department of Public Health indicating that 3 out of every 4 communities in Massachusetts experienced at least one opioid-related overdose death between 2012 and 2014.  The state also experienced a 20% increase in opioid-related deaths between 2013 and 2014, with 1,089 fatalities recorded last year alone, a number that is expected to climb even higher this year.

Governor Baker’s bill would require practitioners to check the Prescription Monitoring Program before prescribing an opiate, and would mandate five hours of training every two years for practitioners who prescribe controlled substances, with a focus on effective pain management and ways to identify high-risk patients.  It also would limit first-time opiate prescriptions to a 3-day supply, except in emergency situations, and would empower doctors to subject drug addicts to an involuntary hospitalization for 72 hours if they are deemed to pose a risk to themselves and others.  In addition, the bill would provide increased access to Recovery High Schools for students diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder.

“The Governor’s opioid legislation is exactly the type of bold proposal our families and communities need to begin to tackle this issue,” commented Lyons.

“I think it is absolutely imperative that the legislature take action on the Governor’s proposal as soon as possible,” said Lyons. “There isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t open the newspaper and see that another tragedy has occurred. It is an issue where every day counts. I strongly urge the Democratic leadership to get this bill to the floor prior to the Thanksgiving recess.”

(A copy of the letter is attached.)

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