Maine Rx Monitoring Program Targets Suspicious Prescribing

SEPTEMBER 01, 2004
Ken Rankin

Officials at Maine's Office of Substance Abuse have begun collecting detailed prescription data from every pharmacy in the state as part of a crackdown on prescription drug abuse by patients. The information gathered from the pharmacies will be compiled twice a month and searched for evidence of "doctor shopping" by drug users who try to obtain multiple prescriptions from different physicians.

The program, which will focus on scheduled drugs with abuse potential, is designed to flag multiple purchases by the same person, too frequent refills, and other suspicious patterns.

Significantly, however, Maine does not plan to use the monitoring program for law enforcement purposes. When suspicious activity is identified, prescribers will be encouraged to review the patient's drug needs, adjust prescribing practices, and refer the patient for substance abuse counseling when appropriate.

The goal of the program is "to create a tool that may improve community care and reduce addiction and overdose by stressing prevention and treatment," state officials said. Law enforcement authorities will be able to subpoena specific information for a case they are already investigating, but they can not go on a "fishing expedition," a spokesman for the state said.