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June 18. 2014 9:52PM

Drug monitoring program designed to battle opioid addiction

CONCORD — The state’s new prescription monitoring program — intended to prevent substance abusers from shopping for doctors and controlled drugs — may not be up and running July 1 as originally intended, but a key software contract was approved on Wednesday.

 

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 of $368,871, which the Executive Council accepted in March.

On Wednesday the council approved a $333,569 contract with Health Information Designs LLC of Auburn, Ala., to provide the software and services to be accepting prescription drug data.

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.

“Rising rates of opiate and heroin abuse and overdoses represent one of the most pressing public health and safety challenges facing New Hampshire, and our prescription drug monitoring program is an important tool that will help identify potential prescription drug abuse, help prevent doctor shopping and help ensure stronger oversight of controlled substance prescriptions,” said Gov. Maggie Hassan after the vote. “Today’s vote is another step toward implementing this critical program and addressing this challenge, building on efforts such as our bipartisan health care expansion plan, increasing the safe and effective use of Narcan for emergency responders and Partnership for a Drug Free NH’s youth prevention campaign.”

Hassan earlier this week attended a meeting with the other New England governors to discuss opioid abuse and work on a regional strategy to address the growing problem.

 

She said the contract and the state’s drug monitoring program will help strengthen New Hampshire’s role in that regional strategy.

 

“I look forward to implementing our prescription drug monitoring program as quickly as possible in order to improve the health and safety of our families, our communities and our state,” Hassan said.

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

grayno@unionleader.com


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