EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 1, 2013

Lawmakers rush legislation to save jobs in Andover

By Andy Metzger
State House News Service

---- — BOSTON — With 250 jobs at an Andover medical company on the line, lawmakers have sped legislation through both branches and to the governor’s desk that delays a provision of last year’s prescription monitoring law.

Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, said the law aimed at targeting “pill mills” inadvertently caught up Injured Workers Pharmacy, which sends prescriptions to out-of-state clients.

“By accident we included companies like IWP that had been around for 10 years with no problems, no issues,” Finegold told the State House News Service. He said, “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.”

Without the additional delay, which puts off the provision until Dec. 1, a reputable health care business with 250 employees would have been out of compliance with state law starting today, Finegold said.

An aide to Sen. John Keenan, D-Quincy, who helped write the prescription monitoring law, said the particular provision targeted situations where someone receives a prescription from out of the Massachusetts area, and attempts to fill it in Massachusetts.

The provision bars the filling of certain prescriptions from doctors outside of New England or New York. That provision caught up IWP, a company that sends prescription drugs to patients out of state, the aide said.

“Injured Workers Pharmacy is pleased that the Legislature passed and the governor signed this important legislation. We really want to thank the Legislature and the Patrick Administration for addressing this critical issue for our patients and employees,” said Christy Beram, director of marketing at IWP. “We look forward to working with these stakeholders to come up with a comprehensive solution that maintains the integrity of the Prescription Monitoring Law and allows us to continue providing jobs to our 250 employees in the commonwealth.”

The company serves 30,000 patients around the country, including helping injured workers through the compensation claims process, and employs 250 people at its Andover facility, according to talking points regarding the bill.

The Legislature had previously delayed implementation of the provision from the Jan. 1, 2013 start-date originally included in the law. On Dec. 31, a delay to May 1 was affixed to a piece of oral health legislation, which was signed into law Jan. 3.

The House and Senate passed the latest bill Monday, and Gov. Patrick signed it yesterday.

“If we didn’t get this done today, by law they’d have to be out of business,” said Finegold.

Finegold said the Legislature will look for a permanent solution that would not entangle reputable companies in the state’s efforts to curb prescription drug abuse.

“We hope to get the thing resolved in the next 60 days,” Finegold said. He said, “We should have got it done before.”