LePage creates task force to fight ‘alarming’ prescription drug abuse

Posted Feb. 02, 2012, at 10:30 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Citing an “alarming” rate of prescription drug abuse in the state, Gov. Paul LePage has created a task force to fight the problem.

The Republican signed an executive order Wednesday creating the 17-member task force, which will include medical and law enforcement representatives.

The order says nearly 1,400 residents of Maine have died from pharmaceutical drug overdoses in the last decade and drug-related deaths now exceed traffic fatalities in the state. In addition, more than 500 babies born in Maine in 2010 faced opiate withdrawal and other effects from their mothers’ prescription drug abuse.

MaineMedia Today reports the task force’s job includes the development of a prescription drug disposal program; starting a program to notify prescribers when a patient is arrested for diverting drugs; and developing a public education campaign to reduce abuse.