The State of Massachusetts is poised to pass some of the most aggressive legislation in the country to combat improper use of opioid medications.  In response to the CDC’s report that 1162 people in Massachusetts died as a result of opioid overdose in 2014, the governor and legislature reached a compromise to help control opioid use and reduce the risk of overdose. Patients will be limited on their initial prescription to only seven days of treatment, and use of narcotics in emergency settings will be drastically limited as well. In addition, patients who present signs of opioid intoxication will be automatically referred to a specialist for evaluation.

The problem of opioids has been skyrocketing in the United States for years. Prescription opioid overdose has now overtaken illicit heroin use as the leading cause of overdose. Legislatures throughout the country are now attempting to limit opioid use in hopes of reducing death rates. Pain advocates fear that patients who legitimately need opioids for chronic pain management will have great difficulty obtaining prescriptions.

There are viable alternatives to opioids but their use is limited due to lack of payer and physician endorsement, helping to drive the increasing rate opioid prescriptions. Theramine, an amino acid based medical food is one exception that has not only been shown to effectively relieve chronic back pain but is also frequently recommended by many physicians as an alternative to NSAID and opioid therapies as well as covered by select health plans. In two double-blind multicenter trials, Theramine was shown to significantly reduce pain and improve mobility and function in patients with chronic low back pain.

Theramine is non-addictive and has no dangerous side effects, unlike opioid analgesics and NSAID (ibuprofen/naproxen) medications. With increasing regulatory scrutiny and the increasing epidemic of opiate abuse, physicians are looking for alternatives for their patients and chronic pain. Theramine provides a safe and effective alternative to these addictive medications and can be used as first-line therapy for patients with chronic pain.