BOSTON HERALD: Baker: I don’t want to preside over 3,500 opioid deaths a year
As originally appearing in Boston Herald

BY CHRIS VILLANI

 

Gov. Charlie Baker offered an impassioned defense of his legislation aimed at tackling the state’s opioid crisis yesterday, saying the deaths must stop.

“I don’t want to be the governor who ends up presiding over 2,500 opioid deaths, or 3,000 in one year … or 3,500. Especially when there are things that can be done to deal with this,” Baker told the several hundred in attendance at the New England Council Opioid Abuse Forum at the Seaport Hotel.

Baker said he found it “interesting” that some viewed his proposal to limit all first-time opioid prescriptions to a three-day supply to be controversial given the number of opioid deaths last year — more than 1,400.

He said more people died of opioid causes than died from automobile accidents and gunshot wounds combined in the Bay State last year.

“I have never seen an issue that has more negative momentum than this one has,” Baker said.

The governor seemed to express some willingness to be flexible on the first-time prescription limit, but said the 72-hour proposal can jump-start a discussion on the issue.

“We can debate whether it should be 72 hours or 114 hours or … three days, five days, six days. I am perfectly happy to have that conversation,” he said.

The Swampscott Republican said making relatively small improvement on the issue is not enough.

“This requires disruption, disruption,” he said. “I don’t want to be dealing with this issue where we are all talking about success because the number … of overdoses goes up 30 percent instead of 33 percent.”

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