A bill passed by Massachusetts lawmakers last week requires doctors to sign up for and use the state’s prescription monitoring program. The measure is awaiting the signature of Governor Deval Patrick. Lawmakers said they hope the bill will be signed into law sometime in August.
Enrollment in the prescription monitoring program is currently voluntary in Massachusetts, and only 1,700 out of 40,000 prescribers are currently registered, The Boston Globe reports.
Under the bill, pharmacies and drug manufacturers would have to alert local police when they report missing controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Administration. When a minor is treated for a drug or alcohol overdose at a hospital, a legal guardian must be notified, and resources including a social worker must be provided.
Under a “Good Samaritan” clause, 911 callers will receive significant immunity at the scene of a heroin overdose, in order to encourage witnesses to call for life-saving assistance. Pharmacies will have to distribute material with each painkiller prescription, which discusses the risks of addiction.