Massachusetts Senate leaders are hoping to toughen a state law that calls for monitoring of dangerous prescription drugs.
A bill outlined Tuesday would require anyone who prescribes controlled substances to register with the state's prescription monitoring program. Participation is voluntary under a 2010 state law, and officials said only about 1,700 out of 40,000 prescribers in Massachusetts have registered.
Norfolk Count District Attorney Michael Morrissey says lawmakers are addressing a serious issue.
"Totally dependent on efforts of the state, there's a great deal of support in Congress to move forward on prescription monitoring, but we can't do it unless states come first," Morrissey said.
Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of narcotic abuse in the country, particularly among users of opiates such as OxyContin and heroin.
According to a 2009 report of a special commission, there were 3,265 opiate-related deaths in the state from 2002-2007.
The bill is scheduled for debate Thursday. It also seeks to increase access to treatment and requires hospitals and pharmacies to report any loss or theft of the drugs to local police.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This program aired on January 31, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.