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O’Malley Signs Prescription Drug Monitoring Bill

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Gov. Martin O’Malley is signing a bill to create a prescription drug monitoring program in Maryland.

After Tuesday’s bill signing in Annapolis, the governor will be joined in Baltimore by Gil Kerlikowske, head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, for a roundtable discussion. Representatives of the medical, pharmaceutical and law enforcement communities will attend.

Health officials who pushed for the bill say cases of prescription drug abuse have been soaring in Maryland. Fran
Phillips, Maryland’s deputy secretary for public health services, testified at a March hearing on the bill in Annapolis that the rate of admissions into drug treatment programs between 2007 and 2010 has almost doubled for prescription drug abuse.

The new monitoring program will enable professionals to track the use of prescription drugs and recognize trends of abuse.

Law enforcement officers will be able to get a subpoena to gather information from the system and investigate, when probable cause is found.

The bill takes effect in October.

Maryland has been one of the few states without a monitoring program for prescription drugs. The General Assembly approved a prescription drug monitoring program in 2006, but the measure was vetoed by then-Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich. At the time, Ehrlich cited serious financial implications of the bill. He also said it could create a chilling effect on providers prescribing pain management.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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