Bill officially named for Johnston native

‘Ryan’s Law’ gives state authority to fine healthcare professionals who irresponsibly prescribe narcotics

By RORY SCHULER
Posted 5/27/22

Lou Massemini has a copy of the bill at home, autographed by the governor.

He keeps the legislation in his late son’s bedroom. The document’s just one small, proud piece of Lou’s …

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Bill officially named for Johnston native

‘Ryan’s Law’ gives state authority to fine healthcare professionals who irresponsibly prescribe narcotics

Posted

Lou Massemini has a copy of the bill at home, autographed by the governor.

He keeps the legislation in his late son’s bedroom. The document’s just one small, proud piece of Lou’s memorial to the young man he lost too soon. And now, following a vote by the Rhode Island House of Representatives, that bill’s officially an integral part of Ryan’s legacy.

“I’m very proud of the accomplishments that were made through the legislators through approving this bill and naming it after my son,” Lou Massemini said Monday. “It’s an honor to me. That’s how I feel. It took a long time, but everybody came through and it means a lot to me.”

The piece of legislation that Massemini’s loss helped inspire now officially bears his son’s name, and he hopes the law will ultimately save lives.

Massemini lost his son, Ryan, to a prescription drug overdose in 2019. He and local lawmakers hope “Ryan’s Law” will help reduce the number of future grieving Ocean State parents, preventing overdoses by holding doctors accountable for reckless prescribing practices.

Last week, the Rhode Island House of Representatives gave its approval to officially naming the legislation “Ryan’s Law,” after Massemini’s son. The state Senate is expected to hold a similar vote soon.

The bill was originally introduced by state Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston), a close family friend of the Massemini’s.

In 2021, the General Assembly passed the law (2021-H 5098A), increasing the maximum fine for those found guilty of unprofessional conduct from $10,000 to $30,000. That bill will now be known as “Ryan’s Law,” for “the young man who’s death precipitated it,” according to a press release from Fellela’s office.

“It think everybody did a great job and it was an honor for me to go down there and testify on behalf of the bill and see this move forward,” Massemini said. “They all did what they had to do to improve prescribing practices.”

State Sen. Josh Miller (D-District 28, Cranston, Providence) originally introduced the bill three years earlier but it failed to pass. Then last year, with Massemini’s testimony, Miller and Fellela were able to guide the legislation through successful votes in both chambers and onto Gov. Dan McKee’s desk.

Massemini attended the bill’s ceremonial signing at the Rhode Island State House where he received a copy of the bill.

“I keep the copy in his room with the memorial,” he said. “I have a big wall where the first part of the bill passed. Then the second part. And now this is the final chapter. It’s finally named ‘Ryan’s Law.’”

“Ryan’s Law” grants licensing boards responsible for governing the professional conduct of prescribers the authority to fine licensees if they are found guilty of unprofessional conduct. The legislation is aimed primarily at discouraging reckless overprescribing of opioid painkillers.

“In many cases, opioid addiction begins with prescribed painkillers,” Fellela said last year. “The ramifications of reckless over-prescribing has led to an epidemic that has harmed society and torn families apart. This legislation provides some serious consequences for the handful of physicians who are neglecting to prevent addiction.”

Over the past three years, Massemini worked hard to help change state laws governing the medical profession. He believes better medical care could have saved his son from the overdose that ended his life. He hopes “Ryan’s Law” will improve patients’ lives and save families like his own.

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