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March 01. 2014 8:04PM

New program to take aim at prescription drug abusers

CONCORD - The state's new prescription monitoring program - intended to prevent substance abusers from shopping for doctors and controlled drugs - is expected to be up and running July 1.

The Legislature approved the program in 2012, but it was not funded with state money. Instead, the Board of Pharmacy, which oversees the program, applied for a federal grant.

At Friday's Executive Council meeting, councilors voted to accept a $368,871 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and to establish a program director's position and extend a part-time administrator's position to run the monitoring program.

The program's advisory board met Friday with potential vendors who would collect prescription data and make it available to physicians and pharmacists.

Tricia Lucas, an advisory board member, said once the program is operational, a pharmacist would be able to see how many prescriptions a person has had written over the last six months. The same information would be available to a doctor before writing a patient's prescription, she said.

District 5 Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli, D-Nashua, asked what a pharmacist would do with the information if a person seeking a prescription has had three others written recently for the same controlled drug.

Board of Pharmacy Vice Chairman Bob Stout said current law allows a pharmacist to use his or her best judgment in refusing to fill a prescription.He said the system will provide additional information that allows the pharmacist to use in deciding whether to fill a prescription.Lucas said the attention the program has generated has reduced access to controlled drugs through prescriptions, and some people have turned to heroin, which is cheaper.

When the system is running, she said, people with potential prescription problems could be spotted before they are addicted.

New Hampshire was one of the last states in the country to institute such a monitoring program.

grayno@unionleader.com


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