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Massachusetts law sets limit on opioid prescriptions

March 22, 2016

By Jennifer Garvin

Boston — On March 14, Massachusetts became the first state to establish a seven-day limit on first-time opioid prescriptions.

The new law, An Act Relative to Substance Use, Treatment, Education and Prevention, was passed unanimously by the Massachusetts state legislature, and requires a seven-day supply limit on initial opioid prescriptions for adults and all opioid prescriptions for minors.

According to a state press release, this bill becomes the "first law in the nation to limit an opioid prescription to a seven-day supply for a first time adult prescriptions and a seven-day limit on every opiate prescription for minors, with certain exceptions." The bill also requires doctors to check the state's Prescription Monitoring Program database before writing a prescription for a Schedule 2 or Schedule 3 narcotic and dental and medical students to take courses in pain management before graduating.

"The Massachusetts Dental Society applauds Gov. Charlie Baker and the state legislature for their leadership in addressing this health crisis," said Dr. Edward Swiderski, president, Massachusetts Dental Society. "The MDS is proud to have worked with the Commonwealth and key stakeholders on this historic legislation, which will help to save many lives."

"I am proud to sign this legislation marking a remarkable statewide effort to strengthen prescribing laws and increase education for students and doctors," said Gov. Baker. "While there is still much work to be done, our administration is thankful for the legislature's effort to pass this bill and looks forward to working with the Attorney General and our mayors to bend the trend and support those who have fallen victim to this horrific public health epidemic."

The ADA encourages continuing education about the appropriate use of opioid pain medications in order to promote both responsible prescribing practices and limit instances of abuse and diversion.

For more information about opioids, including upcoming webinars and prescriber tips, visit ADA.org/opioids.