State’s DAs lend support to governor’s opioid bill

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Eleven district attorneys met by telephone conference last Tuesday at the request of Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, and unanimously voted to support Governor Baker’s opioid bill.

“As law enforcement officials, we see firsthand every day the devastating effect of heroin, fentanyl, Oxycontin, and other opioids on individuals and communities,” District Attorney Dan Conley, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, wrote to Sen. Jennifer Flanagan and Rep. Elizabeth Malia, chairmen of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “While law enforcement must and does play a vital role in response to this problem, it cannot operate alone or in isolation.”

Among the key components of the bill are a restriction on the number of opiate painkillers doctors may initially prescribe to patients, a requirement that clinicians check a prescription database before prescribing opioids to a patient, and the authority for medical professionals to commit a patient for substance abuse treatment if they pose a danger to themselves or others.

“The epidemic of opiate addiction and overdose can’t be solved by law enforcement alone,” Mr. O’Keefe said. “It requires decisive action from health care providers, the treatment and recovery communities, educators, and others.”

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, there were more than 1,000 opioid-related fatalities statewide during 2014, exceeding the unprecedented record set the previous year.