Our cities and towns are facing a public health crisis and it is imperative that we take action. As Attorney General, I will use the full authority and weight of the office to protect Massachusetts families from opiate abuse. Every conversation about fighting opiate abuse has to begin with expanding access to mental health and substance abuse services. Until we start enforcing mental health and substance abuse parity to ensure that all of our residents have access to the care they need, we cannot begin to seriously confront the illicit drug dealing and overdose crises plaguing our communities.

Opiate abuse does not begin when the user starts taking drugs, but in their earliest years, when young minds are forming. As Attorney General, I want to protect families by also preventing behaviors that lead to addiction. By supporting and expanding mental health services, we increase the chances of raising children who are less prone to substance abuse. By teaching drug prevention strategies to students, including social-emotional learning skills in our schools, we reinforce the skills required to resist peer pressure and to set a path in each young life that is substance free.

We have the expertise available to make significant progress in taking down the unscrupulous doctors and drug dealers who are destroying our families, homes and communities. As Attorney General, I’ll make certain we’re using all of the resources available to fight back against the spread of illicit painkillers.

 

Warren Tolman’s Action Plan to Tackle Opiate Abuse

Enforce Behavioral Health Offerings
- Enforce mental health and substance abuse parity requirements
- Review practices related to medical necessity to ensure that insurance companies are treating people with parity
- Act to stop abuses in overuse of prior authorization through investigation and enforcement
- As the Attorney General has a major role in monitoring the status of health care, the power of the office can be utilized to suggest that health care providers provide increasing levels of support to combat this scourge, such as demonstrating, supporting, and fiscally contributing to community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment

Take Illicit Painkillers off Our Streets
- Create a task force combining investigators from the Enterprise and Major Crimes Division, the Medicaid Fraud Division and the Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division to tackle waste, fraud, and abuse in the health insurance market, prosecute illicit dealing of prescription drugs, and ensure that drugs are being used for their intended purposes
- Use task force to work with law enforcement to crack down on oxycodone, hydrocodone and buprenorphine
- Facilitate better communication among local, state and federal authorities on cracking down on prescription drugs
- Penalize or prosecute doctors that are abusing their positions to prescribe drugs for illegitimate purposes, and crack down on patterns of obvious diversion of prescription drugs

Improve Education on Painkillers
- Reach out to youth and adults about the dangers of abusing prescription painkillers
- Advocate for increased educational programs and monitoring for patients receiving large dosages of these dangerously addictive prescription drugs
- Advocate for education programs that teach our children social-emotional learning skills to help them resist peer pressure and set them on a substance free path

Stand up to Big Pharma on Painkillers
- Encourage providers to prescribe only tamper-resistant painkillers
- Review and report on prescription drug manufacturer payments to providers
- Monitor how Zohydro or any other new drugs are affecting communities
- Join other attorneys general to go back to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and encourage them to pull back Zohydro and demand tamper-resistant prescription drugs
- Scrutinize opiate advertisements to protect consumers
- Evaluate all legal options to hold drug companies and the FDA accountable

Be a Voice for Progress
- Encourage all first responders to be trained and equipped to administer Narcan, and make it more widely available
- Work with legislators to pass laws to better address this problem including the creation of more drug courts and to encourage the diversion of non-violent drug offenders to treatment
- Advocate to add more beds for mental health and substance abuse treatment
- Advocate for improved reentry programs, including recovery and transitional support services, residential recovery homes for persons with substance use disorders, and funding for long-term services and supports