Update March 9 at 3 p.m.: The House has unanimously passed the compromise bill (PDF). The Senate is expected to take it up Thursday.
Our original story:
BOSTON — A Massachusetts House and Senate compromise bill on how to tackle the state’s opioid epidemic includes new limits on first-time opioid prescriptions, a push to evaluate patients after an overdose and addiction screening for middle and high school students.
The provisions are not as dramatic as those proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker, but a spokeswoman said the Legislature is taking a strong step in the right direction.
More Coverage Of The Opioid Addiction Crisis In Mass.
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- Mass. Sober Home Certification
- Who Is Overdosing In Boston
- Drug Cocktails Fuel The Crisis
- Plans For Heroin ‘Safe Space’
Baker ignited controversy last fall when he proposed a three-day limit on first-time opioid prescriptions. The House took a step back and suggested seven days, and seven is the number in the compromise bill House members are expected to vote on Wednesday.
Liz Malia, chair of the House Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee, said this restriction, coupled with the expectation that doctors and dentists will talk to patients about the dangers of addiction, will shift the thinking about opioids.
“We’re changing some of the culture, and in my mind that’s of the things that really has needed to to happen,” she said.
The seven-day limit includes an exception for adults with chronic pain. It has the support of the Massachusetts Medical and Dental societies.
“I think seven days is a lot more reasonable than the original three days,” said David Lustbader, an oral surgeon who is also vice president of the dental society. “That generally is enough time to get people through the acute period of pain, post surgically.”
- Gov. Baker Appears To Be Growing Frustrated With Lack Of Movement On Opioid Bill
- ‘Status Quo Is Unacceptable,’ Baker Says As He Testifies On His Opioid Bill
- Mass. Medical Society Calls For Changes To Key Provisions In Baker’s Opioid Bill
- Baker Defends Opioid Bill, Says Crisis ‘Requires Disruption’
- Baker’s Proposed Limit On First-Time Opioid Prescriptions Ignites Controversy