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Massachusetts House Approves Compromise Opioid Bill

The Massachusetts State House

The Massachusetts Senate is expected to give final legislative approval Thursday to bill designed to combat the state’s deadly opioid addiction crisis.

The bill, which was crafted in a House-Senate conference committee, limits initial opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply, and allows patients to fill only part of their painkiller prescription at a time.     

It requires schools to screen students for suspected drug abuse and sets a 24-hour evaluation requirement for overdose victims who show up in hospital emergency rooms.

  State Rep. Aaron Vega of Holyoke said it’s a good first step.

   " I think this bill does some good things especially in light of the stories we hear about people becoming addicted to painkillers and then moving to heroin," he said.

The Massachusetts Medical Society, which had initially objected to restrictions on prescribing painkillers, supports the bill.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.