For Immediate Release - September 02, 2015

Governor Charlie Baker Enlists State’s Medical Schools In Combatting Opioid Epidemic

First-in-the-nation effort aims to educate all medical students on pain management and safe opioid prescribing methods

BOSTON – In an effort to arm the next generation of doctors with the tools to curb the opioid epidemic, Governor Charlie Baker met with the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Deans from four medical schools today to discuss opportunities for enhancing curriculum and establishing cross-institutional best practices in pain management and safe prescribing of opioids.

“The avenue prescription pain pills can provide to addiction and heroin use further stresses the need for advancing safe and responsible prescribing methods in the medical community,” said Governor Charlie Baker.  “I am proud that the leaders of the major medical schools here today are committed to working collaboratively with us and each other to review the existing curricula for medical students around safe prescribing and proper use in order to begin curbing this public health epidemic.”

Providing doctors additional training on opioids was part of the comprehensive set of 65 recommendations released in June by the Governor’s Opioid Working Group. The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) has been a strong partner, leading the way in reviewing best practices for opioid prescribing. 

“Massachusetts is home to the best medical care in the world.  We are a national leader of cutting-edge diagnostics and innovative technologies to treat complex conditions,” said MMS President Dennis M. Dimitri, M.D.  “With this collaboration by four major medical schools, we are again setting a new standard—this time for giving our young medical students and residents enhanced education to manage pain properly, while identifying addictive behaviors and getting patients into treatment, when needed.”

The four medical institutions – University of Massachusetts Medical School; Harvard Medical School; Boston University School of Medicine; and Tufts School of Medicine – instruct about 3,000 medical students per year.  With today’s first meeting, attendees agreed to continue towards making recommendations regarding identified best practices, curricula enhancements, and opportunities for public/private, cross-institutional collaboration.

“Whether they aspire to be a primary care doctor, emergency physician or a surgeon, participating in this type of training early on gets them thinking about the importance of pain management for their patients as well as the importance of choosing the right pain management tool,” said Commissioner Monica Bharel, M.D., Department of Public Health.