Gov. Baker signs bill aimed at curbing opioid overdoses

Western Mass News – WGGB/WSHM

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed on the dotted line today, enacting the first law in the country to limit the size of initial painkiller prescriptions.

The opioid-related deaths have been climbing for years here in the Bay State.

Legislators finally said enough is enough.

This new law is aimed at better educating the public and providing optional drug abuse screenings in schools.

It would also require overdose victims who come to emergency rooms to be evaluated within 24 hours while restricting initial painkiller prescriptions to seven days.

The Governor was, at times, overwhelmed with emotion as reflected on the heartbreaking stories he’s been told.

Baker continued on to say that he hopes this law stands as an example for others.

Health officials like Will Davila with the Center for Human Development hopes to see some positive effects.

“I think the thing that stands out is the amount of education and communication.  Quick assessments with students…this adds another layer to do other screenings to see if kids need help and need more screening.” Davila explained.

CHD has already connected with Springfield and Easthampton schools for future screening and while parents do have the option to opt-out, Davila said that addiction comes without an age limit.

“We’re seeing clients sometimes as young as eight or nine years old,” Davila explained.

Niels Rathlev, chair of emergency medicine for Baystate Health, agreed that it’s never too young to educate.

“[It’s] very helpful educating young people.  I mean nine years old, they need it, and patients need to understand what to do with leftover meds not let them expire.  We know young adults get them from their family medicine cabinet.  If you ask nine year olds in schools ‘Have they heard about this issue?  Do they know about needles?’  They do,” Rathlev said.

Rathlev added that this will not impact their hospital prescriptions in a major way as a typical emergency room prescription is for four or five days, but physicians who see post-op patients will see more of a change.

Rathlev also reminded adults to make sure they properly dispose of the pills they are no longer using as young adults most often find the medicine cabinet as their number one source.

Copyright 2016 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

Originally posted March 14, 2016 on

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