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Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh TestifyingOn Monday, November 16, 2015, Governor Charlie Baker testified before the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, alongside Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Christopher Barry-Smith, First Assistant Attorney General from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, in support of the Governor’s bill, “An Act Relative to Substance Use Treatment, Education and Prevention.” Filed in mid-October, the landmark legislation has gained significant momentum across the state in support of its critical provisions developed to address the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic that is claiming the lives of nearly four Bay Staters every day.

Governor Baker’s legislation has garnered broad support across the Commonwealth, including the Massachusetts Sheriffs Association, District Attorneys, medical students, behavioral health specialists and members of the law enforcement community.

Governor Baker, Mayor Walsh, and First Assistant Attorney General Christopher Barry-Smith
Gardner Auditorium, Massachusetts State House
November 16, 2015

Transcription:

GOVERNOR BAKER: In 2014 Massachusetts clinicians wrote over 4.4 million Schedule II and III prescriptions, worth over 240 million pills. I should remind everybody that we only have six and a half million people in the Commonwealth of Mass. In the same year, over 1,200 people died of opioid overdoses. Simply put, the status quo is unacceptable and it needs to be disrupted. That’s why police chiefs, medical school students, behavior health and substance abuse providers, sheriffs, local officials and many other members of the clinician and healthcare communities support our proposals even though they are in some cases controversial.

MAYOR WALSH: I support the bill because I know from personal experience that to get people the help they need we have to meet them where they are, whether it’s on the streets, in the hospitals, at home, at work, or at school. Health starts with education. This bill provides a tool to help educate parents and children about the dangers of misusing opioids, and I’m grateful that it provides a transportation plan for students attending a recovery high school. Help means prevention and I agree with the Governor. A common-sense limit on first-time opioid prescription would provide an effective checkpoint to limit the flow of addictive narcotics into our homes and our communities.

BARRY-SMITH: The bill is bold, it’s innovative and as the Governor already stated it makes crystal clear that the status quo will not suffice. Changes need to occur and the first of those changes concerns prescribing practices. As you’ve heard before, the United States has less than five percent of the world’s population but consumes 80 percent of the world’s opiate supply. To address that problem, this bill puts in place education requirements for prescribers, seeks to increase the use of the Prescription Monitoring Program, and sets a general limit on most opioid prescriptions. We’re confident that the Department of Public Health will work with the medical community to implement, and if necessary, refine that 72-0hour limit, but as a general matter there can be no doubt that additional safeguards on opioid prescribing are necessary.

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