Attorney General William J. Schneider and Governor Paul R. LePage announced last week that a Task Force has been formed to combat the prescription drug abuse problem in Maine.
Governor LePage signed an executive order Wednesday, February 1 establishing the Maine Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force. The formation of the Task Force follows the Prescription Drug Abuse Summit hosted by Attorney General Schneider in October.
"Decision makers in the fields of prevention and intervention, treatment and recovery, education, enforcement and public policy came together at the Summit to develop an action plan for Maine," said Attorney General Schneider. "This is a complex problem and the experts at the Summit considered many solutions, finally targeting the measures that are most likely to make a difference. I am encouraged by the level of commitment of people across the state and look forward to the leadership that the Task Force will bring on this issue."
The executive order describes the alarming public health and safety effects of prescription drug misuse, abuse and diversion and highlights the challenge of balancing prevention, education and enforcement with the need for legitimate access.
"Prescription drug use is the Nation's fastest-growing drug problem and Maine is experiencing increasing and alarming rates of prescription drug abuse," said the Governor. "This reality demands action, but any policy response must be approached responsibly. I hope members of this Task Force is how we can begin to address this issue and find solutions to slow down this major drug problem in a meaningful and effective way."
The 17-member Task Force will address four action items identified by statewide stakeholders at the Summit:
* Develop a long-term controlled substance disposal program
* Implement a statewide Diversion Alert Program that provides prescribers with drug crime information from local law enforcement to assist in determining whether patients are legitimately in need of controlled substance prescriptions
* Develop an evidence-based public education campaign for both community education and prescriber training
* Review the Prescription Monitoring Program and recommend improvements to maximize its use and effectiveness
The members of the Task Force will report every six months to the Governor, the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Public Safety, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection and the Legislature.
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