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Preventing Opioid Misuse, Abuse, and Diversion

The opioid abuse epidemic has become a public health crisis with devastating consequences across Massachusetts and the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of people who died from a drug overdose in 2021 was over six times the number in 1999. The number of drug overdose deaths increased more than 16% from 2020 to 2021. Over 75% of the nearly 107,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021 involved an opioid. Dentists play a vital role in preventing the abuse and misuse of prescription medications. To help support members in this mission, the MDS is dedicated to sharing the latest information, news, resources, and tools.

The MDS is currently supporting the Act Establishing a Dentist Diversion Program legislation. To learn more see the Issue Card.

MDS Position on Opioids

The MDS is committed to helping its members provide safe and effective pain control for their patients by utilizing evidence-based prescribing practices applying non-pharmacological strategies as well as non-opioid and opioid pain medications as appropriate.

As part of former Governor Charlie Baker’s Working Group on Dental Education on Prescription Drug Misuse, Massachusetts dentists were the first in the nation to partner with the Commonwealth’s three dental schools to announce a set of dental education core competencies for the prevention and management of prescription drug misuse. Massachusetts dentists also worked with policymakers to enact landmark legislation limiting opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply for minors and first-time adult prescriptions. This legislation, passed in 2016, also included mandatory continuing education and prescription monitoring requirements.

The MDS supports:
  • Mandatory continuing education in prescribing opioids and other controlled substances
  • Statutory limits on opioid dosage and duration of no more than seven days for the treatment of acute pain, consistent with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evidence-based guidelines
  • Dentists registering with and utilizing Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) to promote the appropriate use of opioids and deter misuse and abuse

In 2018, the American Dental Association (ADA) announced a policy to combat the opioid epidemic impacting the United States. This policy is fully aligned with the position of the MDS.

Partial Prescriptions

10 Guidelines for Rx Writing

Massachusetts Online Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP)

Continuing Education