Several dozen government officials met yesterday near New Orleans to plot a strategy to reduce the number of drug overdoses in Louisiana, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. One possibility is better regulation of pain management clinics that dispense drugs that caused some of the overdoses. Some officials urged creation of a statewide prescription-monitoring program along with local laws that make it harder to open new pain management clinics.
Several jurisdictions in the area have imposed a 180-day moratorium on new pain clinics. Donald Hickman of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration said Louisiana ranks fourth in the nation for the consumption of methadone and fifth for the painkiller hydrocodone, which can be lethal when combined. He said the state should require owners of pain clinics to be doctors specializing in pain management. Louisiana is working to create a database of prescriptions for narcotic painkillers to track down doctors who overprescribe and patients who “doctor shop” by visiting several clinics for multiple prescriptions. Some 20 states already have such systems, and Mississippi’s is scheduled to go online May 1.