More than 47,000 Americans died of an opioid overdose in 2017, 17,000 involved prescription opioid painkillers


Washington (May 14, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03) today introduced the Safe Prescribing of Controlled Substances Act, legislation that requires any prescriber of opioid medication to be knowledgeable of safe prescribing practices. Specifically, it requires all prescribers that are applying for the federal license to prescribe controlled substances, such as prescription painkillers, to complete mandatory education that will help encourage responsible prescribing practices. Of the approximately 2,000 opioid related deaths in Massachusetts in 2018, approximately 20 percent had a prescription opioid present in the postmortem toxicology screen. 


“The path from one bottle of prescription painkillers to addiction needs as many barriers as possible,” said Senator Markey. “We need to ensure that anyone signing a prescription for opioid painkillers understands the full impact that prescription may have on the life of a patient. Our country is drowning in too many super-charged prescription painkillers, and our families are paying the price with addiction and overdoses. We need healthcare providers to use their prescription pads responsibly and stop opioid abuse and addiction before it takes hold. Requiring this commonsense education will help them make responsible and safe prescribing decisions.”


“The fact of the matter is most opioid addictions start off innocently enough -- as the result of a doctor’s prescription,” said Rep. Trahan. “If we want to get serious about our efforts to combat the ongoing addiction crisis, we must get serious about mandating education for all prescribers of prescription opioids. Our health professionals serve and protect our communities, and it’s imperative that they receive the continuing education necessary to properly diagnose and treat patients. This education will serve as a part of a broad, multi-pronged approach to halting the disease of addiction before it can even start. I’m proud to join Senator Markey to sponsor this legislation in the House, and hope it will serve to pave new avenues to tackling addiction in the United States.”


The mandatory education required by the Safe Prescribing of Controlled Substances Act would focus on best practices for pain management and alternative non-opioid therapies for pain, methods for diagnosing and treating a substance use disorder, linking patients to evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders, and tools to manage adherence and diversion of controlled substances, including Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. The legislation also requires that the Department of Health and Human Services evaluate after how implementing this new education requirement impacts prescribing patterns.


The Safe Prescribing of Controlled Substances Act is supported by the American Public Health Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, National Council for Behavioral Health, National Safety Council, and the Massachusetts Medical Society. A copy of the bill can be found HERE