Since he first took office, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts has planned to take on the state’s drug problem. State Senator Benjamin Downing (D) has been leading the fight as well.

“Obviously, we know that this is an issue that has touched all 351 of the cities and towns in Massachusetts, and certainly, across the nation,” said Downing.

State data points to a 90% rise in deaths from opiate overdoses from 2000 to 2012. A new bill passed by the state Senate is aimed to tackle the problem with a focus on prevention first.

“It is advanced screening in schools and other locations to make sure if someone has some troubling signs, that we’re getting them the treatment as early as possible because that is the most efficient way and by far the most successful way to do so,” said Downing.

If the legislation passes the House, it will also require pharmaceutical companies to participate in take-back programs, while also creating more access to pain and treatment specialists.

“Those are some of the steps that we put in place that we hope will help lead us out of this horrible crisis,” continued Downing.

“My hope is that we get a bill done soon so that we can work on the next steps in continuing to do all that we can to help tackle this challenge in our communities,” said Downing.

The bill now goes to the state House for consideration.