BOSTON – With the abuse of prescription pain killers having reached epidemic levels in Massachusetts, the Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation for strict oversight of the drugs, Senator Wolf announced. The bill will reduce the excess supply of pills and require physician registration in the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program to prevent patients from “doctor shopping” for highly addictive medications such as OxyContin and Vicodin.
“The Senate today passed an important and critical piece of legislation dealing with the deadly and growing problem of prescription drug abuse in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich). “Prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic and this legislation takes great strides toward eradicating addiction in our state. The devastating effects of prescription drug abuse have been experienced all over the Cape, but today the Senate took the first step in ensuring the safety of our families today and in the future.”
The Senate adopted an amendment by Senator Wolf which reschedules the commonly prescribed opiate, Vicodin, as a more severe and addictive schedule II drug. Drug schedules are determined using factors such as the potential for abuse, the known pharmacological effect and the psychological or physiological dependence liability.
“I’m happy to announce the amendment I filed to reschedule the powerful opiate Vicodin, from a schedule III drug to a schedule II drug was adopted today by the Senate,” said Senator Wolf.
“The purpose of my amendment was to bring to bring much needed attention to the fact that Vicodin is a powerfully addicting drug and needs to be recognized as such. Alarming statistics have shown that Vicodin is the second most commonly used drug among 12th grade high school students and nearly as many people now try prescription pain killers as they do marijuana. The opiate Vicodin is known to be a gateway drug leading to heroin addiction and deserves the attention the Senate has given it today by categorizing it as a highly addictive schedule II substance.”
For an explanation of drug classifications, knows as schedules, under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, please see this website: http://nationalsubstanceabuseindex.org/drugclass.htm.
Despite rescheduling of Vicodin and increased oversight of prescription opiates, consumer access to medications will not change, just be regulated in a way that is designed to prevent abuse.
This bill must now be taken up by the House of Representatives before going to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.