doc martens desert boots Anne Arundel executive backs plan to use prescription monitoring program for law enforcement

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh supported a proposal to allow health officials to review findings by the state prescription monitoring program for signs of abuse by doctors and turn over findings to local law enforcement for possible charges.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh supported a proposal to allow health officials to review findings by the state prescription monitoring program for signs of abuse by doctors and turn over findings to local law enforcement for possible charges. (Toby Talbot / AP)

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh supports a proposal requiring health officials to review findings by the state prescription monitoring program for signs of abuse by doctors and allow them to turn over findings to local law enforcement for possible charges.

Schuh sent a letter supporting legislation by Del. Erek Barron that would toughen the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program as an enforcement tool. Schuh wrote the Maryland House of Delegates Health and Government Operation Committee, which held a hearing on the bill on Tuesday.

In his letter, Schuh also requested an amendment that would allow local health officers to review the program’s data upon approval by the state secretary of health.

“As the opioid emergency continues in the state and our county, it is important to remember that 80 percent o addictions began with prescription pain medication,” Schuh wrote. Law enforcement can have access to the data, but only with a subpoena and to support an active case. His bill changes the language from “may” to “shall” in various places in an effort to track down prescribers or dispensers abusing the system.

“To not fully use this tool as this point is negligent,” said Barron, D Prince George’s.

Schuh and others have called for strengthening the monitoring program and allowing greater flow of information to track prescription abuse by doctors. In an opioid roundtable meeting Schuh called doctors who abuse their power the “bottom of the barrel.”

House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R Pasadena, is a co sponsor on the bill.

But some medical organizations have asked the state not to increase the enforcement arm of the monitoring program and have asked to keep it as a public health tool, fearing the data may not be able to distinguish “pill mills” from other providers.

There was some concern from Del. Terri L. Hill, a Howard County physician, that the bill would have a “chilling” effect on doctors and lead them to under prescribe.

Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams said he understood that concern but said law enforcement would only get involved if it was an extraordinary circumstance.

“Law enforcement can only get involved when conduct goes so far beyond the standard of care,” Adams said during his testimony.

The bill is another push by state and local officials to seek out punishment for prescribers, dispensers and manufacturers. The county is currently suing several different organizations for their role in the county’s opioid crisis, which has broken overdose and death numbers over the past two years.

In his letter to the committee, Schuh also requested the bill be amended to give more local access to the drug monitoring program.

“Local health officer access to information on prescribing patterns will allow targeted public health intervention and prevention efforts, increasing the effectiveness of our county’s global response to the epidemic,” Schuh wrote. “In addition, this access will allow our health officers to educate both patients and doctors as we continue to fight this epidemic.”
doc martens desert boots Anne Arundel executive backs plan to use prescription monitoring program for law enforcement

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