Mass. Attorney General’s Office: Medical Community Is Part of the Solution

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has made prescription drug abuse a top priority for her office, and First Assistant Attorney General Christopher K. Barry-Smith’s message to Forum attendees was that Ms. Healey views the medical community as a “large part of the solution” to the problem of opioid abuse.

Barry-Smith said Ms. Healey decided on making opioid abuse a priority for her office as a result of her campaign for the office last year. In talking to citizens across the state, Healey discovered a recurring theme of concern from individuals and families: that drug and opioid abuse was a serious problem and something must be done about it.

Establishing opioid abuse as a priority, Barry-Smith said, takes three avenues of approach:  heroin trafficking, prescription drug trafficking, and unlawful prescribing, the last of which he said was a “small part” of the problem. He also noted that the Attorney General’s office would act to ensure that pharmaceutical marketers and dispensers take reasonable steps to reduce the risks of diversion and abuse.

Christopher K. Barry-SmithThe pricing of the anti-overdose drug naloxone and insurance coverage for behavioral health parity are other major concerns of the Attorney General, Barry-Smith said, as is the prescription monitoring program, “to make it as useful as possible.”

Finally, Barry-Smith, reprising the theme that the medical community is seen by the Attorney General as part of the solution, said that prescribing practices must take into account the possibility of overdose and he urged prescribers to “follow best practices.”

— Richard Gulla

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