Senator King Forum Focuses on Opioid Prescribing Practices and Drug Disposal

Created on: Tuesday, December 01, 2015

For two hours Senator King listened while representatives of the medical community presented perspectives on the current situation including how the problem arose.  Approximately forty invited health professionals, health administrators and representatives of the recovering community attended the forum.  Senator King made opening marks expressing concern over Maine having the highest rate, per capita, of long-acting opiates being prescribed in the nation (based upon 2012 data).  He noted the limits imposed by MaineCare in 2012 and the subsequent 43% reduction in the prescribing of opioid based medication to Maine Care patients and asked why the MaineCare limits should not apply to Medicare and commercially insured patients.  Following the Senator's comments, Andrew Kiezulas, a recovering heroin addict who is now an advocate for treatment, presented his personal experience which began with the receipt of prescription medication prescribed by a physician.  He noted that four of five heroin users claim to have started down the road to addiction with legitimate pain medication. 

 

Following Andrew's comments, State Senator Anne Haskell (D, Portland) moderated a discussion that included several physicians offering commentary on the issue, including Noah Nesin, M.D. of the Portland Community Health Center, Amy Belisle, M.D. from Quality Counts (Amy directs the Chronic Pain Collaborative), Mark Fourre, M.D. of Lincoln County Healthcare, Mike Bauman, M.D. of Maine Medical Center and Matt Sholl, M.D., Medical Director for EMS in the state.  Leslie Clark, Executive Director of the Portland Community Health Center expressed concern regarding overprescribing and noted personal examples where she had been prescribed far more pain medication than she needed. Kandyce Powell of the Maine Hospice Council and Center for End of Life Care spoke on behalf of patients who need pain medication.

 

 

MMA EVP Gordon Smith commented on the current status of the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) and the need for more federal and state support for it, noting that plans to provide information to prescribers on their prescribing habits compared to their peer groups has not been accomplished because of a lack of funding. He also noted the recent establishment of the three Task Forces working on a comprehensive solution to the problem. These Task Forces were created through the efforts of U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty, Attorney General Janet Mills and the Commissioner of Public Safety John Morris.  

 

Legislative leaders are also working on comprehensive proposals to deal with the increase in overdose deaths and the shortage of treatment options.  These proposals would complement and provide some balance to the Governor's proposal to hire an additional ten DEA agents. Legislative proposals are likely to be announced prior to the Governor's deadline of Dec. 10.

 

 



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