Incoming Mass. AG to target heroin, Rx abuse

January 6, 2015

As her first major initiative, State Attorney General-Elect Maura Healey plans to create a taskforce to combat Massachusetts’ heroin and prescription drug crisis.

As her first major initiative, State Attorney General-Elect Maura Healey plans to create a taskforce to combat Massachusetts’ heroin and prescription drug crisis.

Healey said the taskforce would expand the state’s prescription monitoring program (PMP), making data sharing easier between states and improving the reporting of prescriptions in real time. In addition, the taskforce will scrutinize drug marketing, prescribing, and dispensing practices, and support public education and outreach efforts. The taskforce will also direct resources toward addiction and treatment programs, investigate drug trafficking, and review the availability of anti-overdose medication.

Opioid deaths dip while heroin deaths increase

“Everyday, families across Massachusetts are being torn apart by this epidemic,” Healey said. “We must lead the nation in confronting this public health crisis. I will build on our state’s many ongoing efforts and bring every resource I have to the table.”

The taskforce will include prosecutors, civil enforcement attorneys, healthcare and drug abuse experts, investigators, and the Massachusetts State Police.

"Maura Healey will be a strong leader in addressing the opioid epidemic, allocating resources to investigations and enforcement, treatment and recovery programs, and prescription drug monitoring,” said Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan. “Those of us who watch this crisis harm families every day applaud her willingness to place this epidemic at the center of her agenda."

The executive director of the Massachusetts Independent Pharmacists Association, Todd Brown, said the taskforce is needed. “We particularly support the AG-Elect's plan to improve public education and expand the prescription monitoring program, which will save lives," Brown said.

Healey also vowed to work with the governor and state legislators to expand drug courts and to increase treatment options for those people addicted to drugs.  “Those of us in public service and those on the frontlines don’t go a day without hearing another heart-breaking story of loss due to this epidemic. It’s time to act,” Healey said.