Four DiZoglio Amendments Adopted into House Opioid Bill

Included in comprehensive House legislation to address opioid addiction in the Commonwealth were four amendments sponsored by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen).

The bill, which passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives with unanimous and bipartisan support, adopted amendments sponsored by DiZoglio pertaining to the advertising of opiates, cautionary statements on opiate medications, updating the Commonwealth’s Protective Custody Law and additional funding to address substance abuse in hard-hit communities.

Under the legislation, the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Health (DPH) will be directed to regulate the advertising of opiates, benzos and narcotics by medical practitioners in their offices.

“Physicians often display advertisements in their offices promoting opiate painkillers,” said DiZoglio. “These advertisements are provided by pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma, the OxyContin manufacturer which came under fire in recent years for misleading doctors and the public about their drug’s risk of addiction.”

DPH is also directed under another DiZoglio amendment to come up with updated cautionary statements for opioid medications, to be included in all opioid prescription packaging.

“The literature will cover the addictive properties of opiates, risk of dependency and addiction, risk of heroin addiction and abuse, misuses by adults and children, addiction support and treatment resources and the telephone helpline operated by the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services,” said DiZoglio.

The bill also includes a DiZoglio amendment updating the Commonwealth’s Protective Custody Law, which currently allows officers to take persons intoxicated with alcohol to the point of being incapacitated into custody for a period of no more than 12 hours to allow the individuals to regain sobriety. An officer brings the inebriated person home, to the hospital or to the police station until sobriety is met or the 12-hour period is reached.

“This amendment allows the definition of ‘incapacitated’ under the provisions of the law to be expanded to those high on controlled substances, including opiates,” said DiZoglio. “By doing so, more overdoses will be prevented and officers will have an important new tool as they continue to confront this heartbreaking opioid epidemic.”

“I would like to applaud Representative DiZoglio for championing this cause and helping to keep our communities safe,” said Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon. “This change in the Protective Custody Law will significantly aid first responders in their abilities to save lives and help those under the influence of opioids or other drugs.”

Also included in the legislation is an expansion of the Commonwealth’s Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) grants.

“SSYI has proven an immensely effective tool in recent years in reducing youth violence across Massachusetts,” said DiZoglio. “Cities are provided funding through the program to implement intervention strategies in partnership with local organizations, training and education programs. Under this amendment, communities will now be able to use SSYI funding toward addressing local substance abuse issues.”

The House and Senate will now move into negotiations on a final bill to be agreed upon by both legislative chambers.

House Opioid Legislation Includes DiZoglio Bill to Limit Prescriptions to Children

DiZoglio Legislation to Expand Substance Abuse Education in Schools Also Included

DiZoglio Legislation to Expand Substance Abuse Education in Schools Also Included

Included in legislation to be introduced before the Massachusetts House of Representatives to address the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic are two proposals from State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), including limiting the prescription of opioids to children and expanding substance abuse education in Massachusetts public schools.

The legislation, which is expected to be considered by the House in January, would for the first time limit patients prescribed opioids to a seven-day supply and persons admitted to the emergency room due to an apparent drug overdose would be required to undergo a substance abuse evaluation within 24 hours.

Under the bill, children are only allowed a seven-day opioid prescription, whether for the first time or not, unless there are extreme circumstances such as cancer or terminal illness.

The inclusion of this measure comes on the heels of legislation filed by DiZoglio, House Bill 3811, to regulate the prescription of the opioid OxyContin to children. DiZoglio’s bill came in response to the FDA’s recent approval of the powerful painkiller, known in recent years for its frequent abuse, for children as young as 11.

“The legislation I filed earlier this year would have prohibited the prescribing of OxyContin to children,” said DiZoglio. “Unfortunately, such a ban would not pass through federal regulations. As a state, we are only able to do so much, as former Governor Deval Patrick found in his ordering of a ban on the opioid Zohydro in 2014, which was overturned by the U.S. District Court. I would like to see much stronger regulations but this marks a step in the right direction. Right now, there are no limitations in Massachusetts on prescription opioids. While we had to make some concessions through the committee process, the House legislation does expand limitations beyond OxyContin to all opioids and I am very pleased with that. I am committed to working with the Committee to make further improvements throughout the process.”

Since the filing of the DiZoglio bill, a bipartisan group of federal legislators, including U.S. Senators Edward Markey (D-MA), Kelly Ayotte, (R-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), as well as Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Seth Moulton (D-MA), have called on the FDA to reconsider their decision to allow the prescribing of such a powerful opioid to children.

A study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that in 2014, nearly 1 in 30 high school seniors had abused OxyContin and 1 in 20 had abused Vicodin. In 2009, the Massachusetts OxyContin and Heroin Commission found that in 2007 alone there were 4,544 substance abuse treatment admissions in Massachusetts for persons age 15 to 19. The commission noted the second most-common source for obtaining prescription opioids was through a physician.

“Each day, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2,500 youth in the United States abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time,” said DiZoglio. “The number of opioids prescribed to adolescents and young adults nearly doubled between 1994 and 2007 and this continues to be a serious problem. We have a duty to our children to regulate the distribution of such powerful drugs.”

In January, DiZoglio also filed legislation, House Bill 344, designed to expand and strengthen substance abuse education in Massachusetts public schools. In the Commonwealth, there has been a 90 percent increase in opiate overdoses from 2000 to 2012, with one in five high school students having reported being offered, sold or provided illegal drugs at school. This legislation to expand substance abuse education to all students was also included as part of the House proposal.