The Berkshire Health Systems Community Pain Management Project is a collaborative effort of healthcare providers, substance abuse specialists and members of law enforcement and the court system, designed to address the twin goals of improving chronic pain management services and combating drug diversion and misuse in the Berkshires.
After implementation of the project in 2006, the effort quickly earned both state and national recognition for its pioneering work. Paul Cote, the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has called the initiative, "a leading edge program. What this effort is achieving is significant and laudable." Dr. Nathaniel Katz, a national authority on pain management and abuse and drug diversion issues said, "Berkshire Health Systems has taken a leadership role in addressing this problem with an initiative designed to decrease the illegal use of prescription drugs while improving medical care for those who need them. In my experience, this balanced and enlightened approach is unique.
Department of Public Health figures show that during 2005, pharmacies in Berkshire County filled prescriptions for 2.8 million doses of Schedule 2 opioid medications - drugs with significant risk of abuse and addiction, including morphine derivatives, Oxycodone and Percocet. That number is four times higher than the number of Schedule 2 doses dispensed a decade earlier. It also does not include the 11.2 million doses of Schedule 3 pain medications, such as Vicodin, that were prescribed in 2005.