The basics of Maine’s prescription monitoring program

Posted July 25, 2014, at 2:10 p.m.

Maine’s prescription monitoring program was implemented in July 2004, after the passage of establishing legislation in 2003.

How it works

Registered users can look up their patients online by name and birth date. Pharmacies, both in and out of state, submit data weekly, and are expected to begin updating the database daily in the coming year.

The system automatically notifies prescribers when patients engage in behaviors that could indicate misuse, such as visiting a high number of doctors and pharmacists over a three-month period. Prescribers now can tailor the criteria for customized reports.

Who can access it

The database is available free online to prescribers and dispensers. Clinicians and their delegates can log on to the program to check the history of a new patient and to monitor treatment.

Data from the system are available publicly only after being stripped of identifying information.

As of March, anyone who prescribes controlled medications in Maine must register for the program, specifically providers who have a federal Drug Enforcement Administration license. Registered prescribers include physicians, physician assistants, dentists, podiatrists and advanced practice registered nurses.

As of May 1, prescribers of controlled drugs automatically must enroll in the program upon applying for or renewing their professional license.

Licensing boards may access the system to investigate active complaints involving the prescription of controlled substances. The office that administers MaineCare and the chief medical examiner’s office, for investigative purposes, also can access the system.

Law enforcement officers are prohibited from randomly querying the system, and must obtain a court order to search the database.

Individuals may request their their own prescription information, but do not have direct access to the database.

Access is limited to registered users and all data must be treated as confidential personal health information. Prescribers and pharmacists use a secure Web portal to query the system and submit data. Inappropriate use of the information constitutes a Class C felony.

Drugs tracked

The system tracks transactions for schedule 2, 3, and 4 drugs:

Schedule 2 includes methadone, oxycodone, Adderall and Ritalin.

Schedule 3 includes Tylenol with codeine and ketamine.

Schedule 4 includes Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Ambien.

The expense

The program’s costs totaled roughly $307,000 in fiscal year 2013, including more than $200,000 in federal funds and about $106,000 in state money.

A cost-benefit analysis conducted for Wisconsin in 2010 found prescription monitoring programs can save states millions of dollars by reducing medication abuse and diversion.

 

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