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State limits first-time opioid prescriptions to seven days

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday signed a bill into law that, among other things, establishes a seven-day limit on first-time opioid prescriptions.

H. 4056, “An Act relative to substance use, treatment, education and prevention,” addresses the “deadly opioid and heroin epidemic plaguing the commonwealth,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The law is apparently the first in the nation to limit first-time opioid prescriptions for adults to seven days, and to limit every opioid prescription for minors to seven days with certain exceptions, the statement says.

Other provisions include requiring doctors to check the state’s prescription monitoring program database before writing a prescription for Schedule II and III narcotics, and disseminating information on opioid use and misuse at annual head injury safety programs for high school athletes.

“Insurers are committed to combating this epidemic because the societal cost is simply too high,” Alison Cooper, Northeast region vice president for the American Insurance Association, said in a statement. “This legislation contains significant measures that have proven to be effective in reducing dependence on opioids.”