Maine Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force Established

February 6, 2012

AUGUSTA ? 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 will be able to address this issue and start to find solutions on how 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:

  1. Develop a long-term controlled substance disposal program.
  2. 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.
  3. Develop an evidence-based public education campaign for both community education and prescriber training.
  4. 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.

Members include:

Joe Bruno R.Ph., M.B.A., President and CEO, Community Pharmacies, LP

Dr. Stevan Gressit, Founding Director, International Institute for Pharmaceutical Safety

William Savage, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General

Greg Couture, Assistant to the Commissioner, Maine Department of Public Safety

Pattie Aho, Commissioner, Maine Department of Environmental Protection

Darrell Crandell, Commander, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency

Natalie Morse, Prevention Center Director, Maine General Medical Center

Susan Morissette, State Representative

Dr. Denise Theriault, Southern Maine Periodontal Associates

Lauri Sidelko, Director, Alcohol and Drug Education Programs

Jayne Harper, Drug Overdose Prevention Educator, MaineGeneral Prevention Center

Gordon Smith, Executive Vice President, Maine Medical Association

Melissia Petro, Regional Director, State Government & Legislative Affairs Purdue Pharma

Neill Miner, Project Director, Southern Kennebec Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention

Roy McKinney, Director, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency

Brenda Kielty, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, Maine Office of the Attorney General

Patricia Lapera, Project Coordinator, Prescription Monitoring Program Office of Substance Abuse