What You Need to Know About LePage’s Proposed Prescription Drug Bill

Governor Paul LePage held a town hall meeting in Waldoboro, Maine this week to once again address Maine’s opioid crisis by proposing a new prescription drug bill.

The bill places strict rules on prescribers and would make over-prescribing opioids to patients even more difficult by implementing, and mandating, the Prescription Monitoring Program. 

Maine’s Prescription Monitoring Program has been in place since 2003, but it hasn’t been fully utilized until this recent proposed bill by LePage. 

LePage’s bill has been met with resistance from some who are concerned that the bill will undermine prescribers of their medical expertise by enforcing prescribing rules.

Read the section below to understand how the bill will affect prescribers and patients alike.

What Could Change

  • Prescribers will need to register and use the Prescription Monitoring Program, or they’ll risk losing their ability to prescribe
  • Additional training will be necessary for all prescribers
  • The size and duration of opioid prescriptions will be affected
    • Daily limit of opioid prescriptions will be limited to a maximum equivalent of 100 milligrams of Morphine (note: there will be some exceptions such as end-of-life care)
  • By 2018, all opioid prescriptions must be submitted electronically

What's the Purpose of the Prescription Monitoring Program?

The Prescription Monitoring Program was created to better prevent overdose, diversion, and addiction. When used properly, the Prescription Monitoring Program effectively regulates “doctor-shoppers”, or individuals who are jumping from doctor to doctor to receive as many desired prescriptions as possible.

As defined by the Maine.gov website, the Prescription Monitoring Program is a system in which all “transactions for Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances dispensed in Maine to be reported to the state government. Pharmacies – both in and out of the state – submit data weekly.” (source).

Schedule II, III, and IV are classifications of drug types and differ in their potential for abuse/addiction. Schedule I drugs are the most extreme and highly addictive, and are not applicable in the United States because they have no medical use (Heroin). Additional references for Schedule II - IV drugs: 

  • Schedule II (e.g., Oxycontin® and Ritalin®)
  • Schedule III (e.g., Vicodin®)
  • Schedule IV (e.g., benzodiazepines)

Source: MPBN