Gov. Charlie Baker names UMass Medical School pharmacy director to serve on Opioid Drug Formulary Commission

August 04, 2015

Gov. Charlie Baker named Paul L. Jeffrey, PharmD, a pharmacy director in UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, to serve on the Massachusetts Opioid Drug Formulary Commission. Its members are charged with assessing the safety of powerful prescription pain medications amid a national abuse and overdose epidemic.

“Part of the mission to stop addiction is to take a hard look at these opioids and the potential for them to be misused,” Baker said in a news release. “When completed, this new formulary will provide clinicians a road map for prescribing these medications, including the best options to manage pain in patients at risk for misuse or addiction.”

Established under Massachusetts law in 2014, the commission will evaluate the most powerful opioids for four components – accessibility, cost, effectiveness and manufacturing properties that prevent the medication from easily being abused, such as crushed or turned into liquid to be snorted or injected.

“In the last year alone, three abuse-deterrent opioids have been approved by the FDA,” Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said in the release. “Given the deadly toll of the opioid epidemic, it is imperative the formulary reflects the safest choices. If two drugs are chemically the same, it makes sense to take a hard look at the one that is harder to abuse.”

The commission will meet for the first time on Aug. 6, and is expected to develop an opioid formulary by early winter, according to the release. The Department of Public Health (DPH) would then adopt the formulary as part of its regulations.

“While the majority of opioids are prescribed and used responsibly, every step we can take to prevent the opportunity for misuse is a critical step forward,” DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel said in the release.

A pharmacy director in the Office of Clinical Affairs within the Center for Health Policy and Research in Commonwealth Medicine, Jeffrey is known nationally for his writing, presentations and education sessions focused on the opioid dilemma. He was a member of Gov. Deval Patrick’s Opiate Emergency Task Force and is chair of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s Professional Practice Committee.

In his position at UMass Medical School, Jeffrey also serves as director of pharmacy for the Massachusetts Medicaid program, MassHealth. He 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.

The commission consists of experts representing a wide range of relevant areas, including clinical and retail pharmacists, biochemists, physicians, addiction and chronic pain specialists, researchers, and insurers.

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