Gov. Deval Patrick on Thursday declared a public health emergency because of an opioid epidemic. Credit: Getty Images
In response to the growing opioid addiction epidemic, Gov. Deval Patrick on Thursday declared a public health emergency and detailed actions to be taken to fight overdoses and deaths.
"We have an epidemic of opiate abuse in Massachusetts, so we will treat it like the public health crisis it is," Patrick said in a statement. "I have directed [the Department of Public Health] to take certain immediate actions and to give me further actionable recommendations within 60 days, to address this challenge and better protect the health of people suffering from addiction and the families and loved ones who suffer with them."
The emergency declaration gives emergency powers to the state DPH commissioner. Among the actions to be taken are: universally permit first responders to carry and administer Narcan; immediately prohibit the prescribing and dispensing of any hydrocodone-only formulation until adequate measures are in place to safeguard against potential overdose and misuse; and mandate the use of prescription monitoring by physicians and pharmacies, which was previously voluntary.
Also, $20 million will be dedicated to increase treatment and recovery services to the general public, Department of Corrections and sheriffs' offices.