Massachusetts needs to expand and make more accessible programs and services to prevent and treat opioid abuse, Paul L. Jeffrey, PharmD, told Fox-TV 25 Boston.
“There’s a relative or a perceived maldistribution of the services,” said Jeffrey, a pharmacy director in UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division and a member of Gov. Deval Patrick’s Opiate Emergency Task Force. “So the services are there. We know that they’re effective. Detoxification programs and recovery programs work well; however, not everybody knows how to get into those programs.”
Gov. Patrick released a comprehensive report June 10 on how to stem the drug abuse crisis in Massachusetts based on recommendations from the task force. Jeffrey was interviewed by broadcast, radio and print media on the issue.
“One of the striking recommendations of the task force is to do a better job of educating, not just the general public, but also health care providers about how to access these programs once they discover a patient who is in trouble,” Jeffrey told Fox-TV.
The recommendations fall into the categories of prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery. Several will impact medical practitioners. Clinicians will be required to check for patterns of misuse and abuse using the state Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program before issuing a prescription. They will also be asked to take additional pain management training to meet licensing requirements. New regulations to set safe guidelines for dispensing opioids will also be developed.
Chaired by Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, the task force was charged with investigating the state’s opioid crisis and issuing recommendations that include new laws and policies.
“Many of those recommendations were to establish services or to expand services, particularly in areas where they were deficient. So for example, creating another recovery high school or creating recovery support programs,” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey is a pharmacy director in the Office of Clinical Affairs in the Center for Health Policy and Research at Commonwealth Medicine. In this position, he serves as director of pharmacy for the Massachusetts Medicaid program, MassHealth. Jeffrey provides broad clinical support to MassHealth, and has introduced innovative programs in the areas of opioids and pain management, as well as behavioral and mental health.