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Nov 9, 2015 6:09 PM

Governor Hassan proposes comprehensive bill for substance abuse

CONCORD- Governor Maggie Hassan is proposing a comprehensive bill for substance abuse to present in Special Session next week.

A piece of the legislation looks to bring the laws and penalties for fentanyl in line with those for heroin.

The State Medical Examiners Office has a backlog of more than 80 deaths awaiting toxicology results. Kim Fallon, Chief Forensic Investigator says fetanyl-related deaths in the state have skyrocketed over the past few years.

"We had 150 fentanyl deaths in 2014, previous to that we had less than 20 a year," Fallon said.

Many dealers don't know they're selling fentanyl, and most drug users don't realize what they're using can be 50-200 times more powerful than heroin.

The Governor's bill would also: require boards governing all prescribers to update their rules by April 1; establish a statewide drug court office to expand existing drug courts and establish new ones; mandate use of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and upgrade its technology; require all insurance companies to use the same evaluation criteria and remove some prior authorization requirements; limit emergency room prescriptions and all prescriptions to 34 days or 100 dosage units; allow increased oversight of pain and methadone clinics; update the Board of Medicine’s membership; provide additional support to local law enforcement; add an attorney at the Department of Justice focused on drug crimes; and increase funding for the Governor’s Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.

In 2014, there were 326 drug-related deaths in New Hampshire. According to the Medical Examiner's Office, 2015 is on track to see around 350.

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