Maine Legislation Leverages Technology to Help Physicians and Pharmacists Battle Prescription Drug Abuse

ARLINGTON, Va. – April 19, 2016 – Governor Paul LePage of Maine signed into law LD 1646, “An Act To Prevent Opiate Abuse by Strengthening the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program.” The bill mandates prescriber participation in the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), sets limits for opioid prescriptions, requires the electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) for opioids, and mandates addiction training for prescribers. According to the CDC, prescription opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999. In 2014, Maine ranked in the middle among all states with 216 opioid-related deaths.

“Surescripts applauds Governor LePage and the Maine State Legislature for making a significant commitment to battling prescription opioid abuse,” said Paul Uhrig, Executive Vice President Chief Administrative, Legal & Privacy Officer, Surescripts. “This admirable move is a critical next step in helping prevent opioid abuse and save lives across the state by leveraging technology that is readily available to doctors and pharmacists today.”

Drug diversion is a significant concern when it comes to controlled substance prescriptions. In fact, between three and nine percent of drugs that are diverted for abuse are tied to the fraud or forgery of paper prescriptionsi. The electronic prescribing of controlled substances eliminates paper prescriptions and adds a layer of security and validation to prescriptions, including greater scrutiny when it comes to the authentication of a prescriber through rigorous identity proofing. By adopting the technology, providers and pharmacists can arm themselves with the tools needed to prescribe and dispense appropriate medications and, at the same time, decrease prescription fraud and abuse.

In order to activate their systems and comply with LD1646, providers generally must update their software, conduct identity proofing, enable two-factor authentication, and set access controls. In 2015, Maine ranked 32nd for EPCS enablement, based on the percentage of pharmacies (88%) and prescribers (1%) in the state who were ready to utilize the technology, as well as the volume of controlled substance prescriptions being processed electronically (1%).

“Collaborative communication between pharmacists, doctors and the technology companies that serve them will make a difference in the adoption of EPCS and more importantly help curtail the prescription drug abuse epidemic,” added Uhrig. “More work is needed on the part of providers in Maine, but the good news is that the electronic health records (EHR) software systems used by 85 percent of prescribers in Maine are already certified and capable of offering EPCS functionality today.”

For more information, including step-by-step instructions for physicians and their staff, visit

iButler SF, Budman SH, Licari A, et al. National addictions vigilance intervention and prevention program (NAVIPPRO): a real-time, product-specifi c, public health surveillance system for monitoring prescription drug abuse. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf 2008;17:1142–54. ALSO, Rosenblum A, Parrino M, Schnoll SH, et al. Prescription opioid abuse among enrollees into methadone maintenance treatment. Drug Alcohol Depend 2007; 90:64–71.

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April 19, 2016 • 4 min read