A compromise opioid bill released by a House and Senate conference committee Tuesday evening rejects stricter controls proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker, but still imposes new limits opioid prescriptions.
Patients receiving opioids for the first time would be limited to a seven-day supply and would have to return to their doctor’s office to renew the prescription. Gov. Baker had called for a three-day cap.
Baker also proposed a holding patients treated in a hospital emergency room for an overdose for 72 hours. Many emergency medicine physicians said the plan would create chaos because they would not have the staff or space to hold patients without their consent. The compromise bill out Tuesday includes a House proposal that would instead require a patients treated for an overdose to receive a substance abuse evaluation within 24 hours.
The bill would also require high school students be screened to determine if they are at risk for addiction to drugs or alcohol. That program was in the Senate’s version of an opioid bill passed last year. The compromise legislation also includes a Senate provision known as “partial fill,” which would let patients request fewer opioid pills than their physician prescribes.
The House is scheduled to vote on the opioid compromise legislation on Wednesday, and the Senate the following day. Gov. Baker has urged the legislature to act swiftly on an epidemic that is killing, on average, up to four people in the state every day.
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