The governors of five New England states announced Tuesday they are working together to tackle heroin and prescription painkiller abuse, The New York Times reports. The governors of Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts described the agreement at a press conference.
The states will share data on painkiller prescriptions, in an effort to stop “doctor shopping” by patients trying to obtain pills from multiple doctors. They also plan to formulate agreements among their state Medicaid programs, so that low-income patients in one state can be treated for addiction in facilities in another state.
“This epidemic has affected too many of our families and communities, but if we work together, we can recover together and we will come out of this crisis with strength and hope,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said in a news release. “Each of the New England governors has taken strong action to combat opiate abuse in their own states, and now we are acting together as one region to take on this challenge.”
The group will also work with Maine, Governor Patrick said. In the future, the states hope to work with New York and Canada, the governors noted.
The states will partner with Brandeis University’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Center of Excellence, which will analyze data from each state’s prescription monitoring programs. The initiative will focus on prescription drugs that often lead to heroin abuse. Brandeis researchers have found that areas with high levels of prescription drug abuse often have high levels of heroin abuse three years later, the article noted.