Senate Passes RX Monitoring Bill, Rejects Drug Trafficker Registry

February 3, 2012
State House News Service

FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - The top prescribers of controlled substances like Vicodin or OxyContin would be required to immediately enroll in the state’s prescription monitoring program, and others would be forced to follow suit over the next three years under legislation passed by the Senate on Thursday. The bill also requires the Department of Public Health to produce informational pamphlets to explain addiction risks, requires pharmacies and rug makers to report any missing substances to the Drug Enforcement Administration, and requires all prescriptions for controlled substances to be written on forms that use watermarks and serial numbers.

The bill bans the possession, manufacturing and sale of bath salts, a new designer drug, and bars pharmacists from filling narcotic prescriptions from doctors in “non-contiguous states.” During debate on the bill, which passed 36-0, the Senate killed a Republican-backed amendment to study the creation of a registry for drug traffickers, similar to the state’s sex offender registry.

The proposal, offered by Sen. Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), would look at creating a public database tracking the names and offenses of convicted drug traffickers. The amendment failed 5-30. Ross said he came up with the idea after a Wrentham mother told him the story of her son’s overdose death after he befriended convicted drug traffickers. “Had she known that these people in our community had been convicted of drug trafficking, it would have given her the tools she needed to protect her child,” Ross said during debate. He pointed to other states which have instituted similar drug trafficking registries, including Tennessee, Illinois, and Montana. Opponents argued it would cost a tremendous amount of money to set up a registry. Sen. Cynthia Creem, who served on the committee crafting the sex offender registry, called it “an enormous process.”