NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

May 3, 2013

Put some brakes on state lawmakers' zeal

The eagerness of legislators to “do something” about every conceivable ill that plagues humanity all too often results in legislation that does more harm than good.

This “there ought to be a law” mentality nearly snuffed out an Andover company and its 250 jobs. It took last-minute legislative action to avert disaster and save the company from the Legislature’s own bungling.

In its zeal to fight the legitimate problem of prescription drug abuse, the Legislature in 2012 passed and Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill concerning the sale and distribution of certain medications, largely painkillers and narcotics.

Among its provisions, the bill prohibited Massachusetts pharmacies from filling prescriptions written outside of the New England states and New York. The goal of this provision was to crack down on those who abuse proscription medications by “doctor shopping” — getting a number of doctors to write them prescriptions for the same drug. While many pharmacies would question a prescription from well outside the region, some unscrupulous “pill mills” are willing to fill them.

But an Andover company, Injured Workers Pharmacy, is in the business of filling legitimate prescriptions from around the country. The company serves 30,000 patients around the nation, helping injured workers through the compensation claims process. The company employs 250 people at its Andover facility.

Had the legislation taken effect May 1 as scheduled, Injured Workers Pharmacy would have been forced out of business.

“By accident we included companies like IWP that had been around for 10 years with no problems, no issues,” state Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, told the State House News Service. “I’ve talked to the president of the company probably more times than I can remember. Here’s a company, they’ve done nothing wrong.”

Finegold and other legislators rushed through a bill that delays implementation of this prohibition until Dec. 1. The delay gives legislators time to refine the bill so it does not ruin legitimate companies like Injured Workers Pharmacy.

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