BOSTON A bill that enables optometrists to prescribe therapeutic pharmaceutical agents (TPAs) has passed a voice vote in the state Senate here.
The bill allows for the use of topical drugs, including steroids, and the removal of foreign objects. The bill specifically prohibits use of glaucoma medications, use of oral medications and any type of surgery.
Massachusetts is the only state in the United States that does not authorize opto metrists to prescribe TPAs. (Wash ing ton, D.C., also does not allow optometrists to prescribe TPAs.)
Richard Lawless, executive director of the Massachusetts Optometric Association, said the bill now advances to the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill's movement through the legislative branch has been temporarily stymied, Mr. Lawless said, while the House and Senate wrangle with the state's budget. "We're hoping for swift passage. That's our goal," he said.
Mr. Lawless said the voice vote in the Senate was "overwhelming," and there was only one dissenting vote in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
The bill's success in the Senate has been a result of the fact that "the political atmosphere is a little better for us this year," said Mr. Lawless. Last year a similar optometric bill showed promise, but bills do not carry over from year to year in Massachusetts; instead, they must be resubmitted.
The Massachusetts Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons declined to comment about the bill.