February 26, 2018

In This Issue
Drug Overdose Deaths Increased 11% in Maine in 2017
MMA Board to Address Several Critical Issues at Annual President's Retreat in March
Center for American Progress Unveils "Medicare Extra for All"
Purdue Pharma Announces Cessation of Marketing Oxycontin to Prescribers
3 Ways to Maximize Employer Diabetes Prevention Tools for Your Patients
Notes from the American Medical Association
Information for MaineCare Providers
Legislative Call This Tuesday, February 27th
Legislative Report: The Laws Governing Minors' Consent to Treatment and More
Healthcare Suicide Prevention Protocol Development Training - half day workshop - March 2
March 6th Quality Payment Webinar
28th Annual Winter Conference - Contemporary Topics in Orthopedics - March 16-18
QC2018: Building Communities of Practice through Innovation - Wednesday, April 4, 2018
MMA and Jackson Laboratory Seeking Volunteers to Assist with 2018 Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative Forum
New Free CME on Alzheimer's Risk, Detection, and Management
Peer Navigation Program from Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE)
Online Learning Opportunities Offering CME Credits - from the Northern New England Practice Transformation Network
Operations Director
Associate Director/Director of Compliance, Privacy, Risk and Legal Affairs for Penobscot Community Health Care in Bangor, Maine
Outpatient Internal Medicine Physician Bangor, Maine
Relocate to Beautiful Southwestern Maine - Medical Director/Family Practice Physician
Clinical Cardiology Opportunity
Outpatient Only - Internal Medicine with Loan Repayment & Sign-on Bonus
Opportunities at the VA for Volunteer Physicians

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Drug Overdose Deaths Increased 11% in Maine in 2017

The data was collected and analyzed by Marcella H. Sorg, PhD, of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine, under a contract with the Office of the Attorney General.  
As noted by the Attorney General, while the overall increase is not as significant as the nearly 40% increase in deaths in 2016 over 2015, the increase is still very alarming. "Fentanyl has invaded our state,"  Attorney General Mills noted, "killing 247 people last year alone. Five of these deaths were due to the lethal drug carfentanyl. When people ingest this powerful powder, they often believe it is heroin, and have been told it's heroin. But no one should take a chance with these substances. Even as dangerous as heroin is, fentanyl is hundreds times more likely to kill you...."
Illicit fentanyl and its analogs are manufactured in labs in China and often shipped into the United States through other countries and into Maine through Massachusetts and other other states. Traffickers often ace heroin with fentanyl and sell fentanyl as heroin because fentanyl is cheaper to make and the profit margin for dealers is so much higher.
Most of the drug deaths in 2017 in Maine were caused by two or more drugs, and the average cause of death involved three drugs. The vast majority of overdose deaths (85%) were caused by at least one opioid, including pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical (illegal) opioids. Most of the pharmaceutical opioids were not prescribed for the decedent. Naloxone (Narcan) was detected in 31% of the decedents, which indicates that someone attempted to revive the individual but the attempt was too late.
The highest number of drug overdose deaths in 2017 (26%) occurred in Cumberland County, with 57 of those deaths -more than one per week- occurring in Portland. York County saw 82 deaths, or 20% of the statewide total.
Penobscot County had the third highest number of deaths, with 65 or 16% of the total. The average age of drug overdose deaths has remained stable at 41, or close to the average age of the population.
MMA EVP Gordon Smith, Esq., who recently served as one of the members of the Legislature's Task Force to Address the Opiate Crisis, expressed disappointment with the figures released. "We had hoped that the figures were be about the same as 2016, as the first six months of the year the deaths were slightly declining, but the last six months the deaths ticked up significantly and tragically," Smith noted. While the medical community has done an admirable job in decreasing the number of opioid pills prescribed, these latest figures demonstrate the hold the epidemic has on the state."
MMA continues its educational programming to health professionals on the epidemic and also continues at the State House to call for more resources to be devoted to prevention, treatment and harm reduction. Several relevant bills are still pending before the Second Regular Session of the 128th Legislature.
The full report may be found at www.maine.gov/ag/news/index.shtml.

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