Prescription Drug Abuse - Issue Summary

Should New Hampshire continue the prescription monitoring program?

prescription drug abuseBy: LFDA Editor

SB 286, proposed in January 2012 by Wolfeboro Republican Sen. Jeb Bradley, was signed by Gov. Lynch June 11, 2012.  The bill established a controlled drug prescription monitoring program funded entirely through "grants, gifts, or user contributions." The program officially launched October 16, 2014.

Prescription drug abuse has become the front line for the “war on drugs” in New Hampshire.

HB 1636, a 2010 measure to stop people from "doctor shopping" in the hunt for addictive prescription drugs, noted that "New Hampshire has seen a 200 percent increase in deaths in the last 10 years from these drugs, primarily Methadone, with prescription drug abuse being the fastest growing form of substance abuse."

But efforts to create the electronic tracking system in New Hampshire failed in 2005, 2007, and 2010, leaving the Granite State as the only state in New England without the ability to track these drugs.

Assistant Attorney General Philip Bradley told Foster's Daily Democrat: "No one is really able to intervene early now because they don't have that information. A prescription monitoring program lets a doctor know that patient is getting their drugs elsewhere and the prescription he's about to write may be a few too many."

In addition to giving health providers access to the information, the legislation allowed access by law enforcement to the information.

The law enforcement piece, in addition to the cost -- estimated at $2.2 to $3.5 million -- caused concern during committee hearings on the measure.

"It needs to be more of a public health tool than a law enforcement tool," Bradley said to Foster's.

SB 286, the bill passed in 2012, still allows for law enforcement access to the information, although only on a case-by-case basis.  Additionally, patient information will be deleted from the database every six months, with the exception of information about patients suspected to be abusing drugs.

The cost issue was addressed in the bill as follows: "All costs incurred by the board for the implementation and operation of the program shall be supported through grants, gifts, or user contributions."  In the event that there is not enough funding for the program, the bill allows the pharmacy board to "curtail, temporarily suspend, or cancel the program."

In September 2013 the state Board of Pharmacy received a $400,000 federal grant to build a prescription monitoring database and operate the program for two years.  The prescription monitoring program officially launched October 16, 2014.  As of now, there is now plan for funding the program after two years, although an advisory council is considering fee structures for medical providers and/or pharmaceutical manufacturers.

2015 Legislation

Rep. Amanda Bouldin is the primary sponsor of HB 271, a 2015 bill that increases access to overdose-reversing drugs such as Narcan by allowing doctors to prescribe to friends and family members of addicts.  That bill passed the House and Senate was signed by Gov. Hassan.

Sen. Jeb Bradley is the primary sponsor of SB 31, a 2015 bill that makes some changes to the prescription monitoring program, for example to include veterinarians.  Gov. Hassan signed that bill in May.

House committees are still studying two 2015 bills that passed the Senate: SB 45 and SB 67.  Sen. Andy Sanborn is the primary sponsor of SB 45, which requires an injured worker and his or her health care provider to enter into an opioid treatment agreement outlining the procedures for opioid use under workers’ compensation. Sen. Lou D'Allesandro is the primary sponsor of SB 67, which establishes a committee to study opioid misuse.

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If you are interested in prescription drug abuse and want to take action here are some choices:

  • If you are new to contacting your government, please visit our page on  How to Take Action.
  • Contact one of the organizations listed in Learn More. These groups represent the pro or con positions of issues.
  • Contact a government official as follows:

1. Contact members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives or the New Hampshire Senate.

2. Contact the Committee chairperson or members of the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee or the Senate Health and Human Services Committee – these are the committees that oversee this issue.

3. Contact the head of the New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy or Department of Health and Human Services.

4. Give your opinion to Governor Maggie Hassan

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Do you think New Hampshire should institute a prescription monitoring program? Whatever your thoughts are, we urge you to make your voice heard. See the "Learn More/Take Action" section on this page for more information.

Issue Status

SB 286, a bill that establishes a controlled drug prescription health and safety program, was signed by Gov. Lynch on June 11, 2012.  The prescription drug monitoring program launched October 16, 2014.

Several legislators sponsored other bills related to prescription drug abuse in 2015.  See the bottom of the Issue Summary for more details.


September 2, 2015
Eagle-Tribune: Governors urge FDA to toughen opioid labels
August 31, 2015
NHPR: Doctors should change opioid prescription habits, attorney general says
August 28, 2015
NHPR: State announces training program for opioid prescribers
August 19, 2015
NHPR: Unlicensed substance abuse programs scramble to comply with regulations
August 9, 2015
Concord Monitor: Capital Beat: As substance abuse crisis continues to exact toll, debate over solutions turns increasingly political
July 22, 2015
Nashua Telegraph: New law enables NH to join interstate prescription drug ‘data hub’
NHPR: N.H. Ranked 2nd For Child Well-Being, Among Worst For Teen Substance Abuse
NHPR: N.H.'s 'Drug Czar' Offers Recommendations to Tackle Opioid Crisis
Concord Monitor: National report finds New Hampshire struggling to curb teen substance abuse
Concord Monitor: N.H. ‘drug czar’ issues expansive list of recommendations to combat opioid crisis
Keene Sentinel: State officials announce 22 recommendations to help battle drug abuse
July 15, 2015
Concord Monitor: Federal grant to combat substance abuse turns political hot-button issue in N.H.
July 10, 2015
NHPR: Addiction Recovery Options Increase, but Advocates Say N.H. Needs More
July 9, 2015
Union Leader: Hassan signs Good Samaritan bill into law
Union Leader: More state help for addicts in budget
NHPR: Manchester's New Police Chief: 'Talk Is Cheap' When It Comes To Funding Drug Treatment
NH1: 'Good Samaritan' law grants immunity to people seeking drug overdose help
WMUR: New law grants immunity to some people reporting drug overdoses
Concord Monitor: Hassan signs ‘Good Samaritan’ law
July 7, 2015
Keene Sentinel: More help aimed at combating drug epidemic in NH
Concord Monitor: New Hampshire funding for treatment, recovery far lower than neighboring states
June 10, 2015
Nashua Telegraph: State takes attack on heroin, drug and alcohol abuse to community; stresses low-cost prevention strategies
June 8, 2015
Seacoast Online: Police officials adapt as opiate addiction spreads
June 7, 2015
Concord Monitor: Capital Beat: Substance abuse aid shorted by budget
June 1, 2015
Concord Monitor: Clinton camp aims to address drug abuse
May 25, 2015
Eagle-Tribune: Drug monitoring program gets revised
May 1, 2015
Nashua Telegraph: Despite heroin epidemic, experts say NH ranks second lowest in nation in terms of funds devoted to drug treatment, prevention
February 19, 2015
NHPR: House bill targets chain of NH pain clinics
February 17, 2015
NHPR: New state record for drug-related deaths
February 1, 2015
Eagle-Tribune: NH lawmakers want to expand Narcan laws
January 16 2015
Concord Monitor: New rules would allow police to be trained to carry and use anti-overdose drug
NHPR: Cops permitted easier access to life-saving overdose drug
January 6, 2015
NHPR: 2014 Manchester drug arrests up by 85 percent
NHPR: NH health officials launch drug addiction resources web site
December 29, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: Health, safety officials strive to stem rapid 2014 rise in drug overdoses, deaths
December 17, 2014
NHPR: The economic impact of substance abuse in NH
November 25, 2014
NH1: Anthem in NH named in national class action suit
November 18, 2014
Concord Monitor: Report: New Hampshire economy lost $1.85 billion due to substance abuse in 2012
Seacoast Online: Substance abuse costs NH $1.8 billion, study says
November 17, 2014
Foster's Daily Democrat: Report details substance abuse's economic impact
November 14, 2014
Citizen of Laconia: Forum participants vow to end drug epidemic
October 19, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: NH launches new system to monitor prescription medications
October 17, 2014
Concord Monitor: NH launches prescription drug monitoring program
Seacoast Online: Prescription drug database starts in New Hampshire
NHPR: Px drug monitoring program aims to curb addiction, abuse
October 11, 2014
Seacoast Online: Senator, police, experts seek solutions to widespread addiction problem
September 28, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: Forum to talk about the state’s drug problem – from heroin to Spice – to be held this week
Nashua Telegraph: Spice and other synthetic drugs pose chemical conundrum for law enforcement
WMUR: Granite Staters throw out old and unused prescription pills
Seacoast Online: New Hampshire participates in drug take-back day
September 27, 2014
Eagle-Tribune: Southern NH police departments divided on drug take-back event
September 26, 2014
Keene Sentinel: Cheshire County Drug Court holds its second graduation
August 31, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: Getting treatment for addiction in New Hampshire available only to a few
August 30, 2014
Seacoast Online: 6 New England governors urge painkiller reversal
NHPR: Hassan joins New England governors in push to reverse painkiller approval
July 20, 2014
Keene Sentinel: Phoenix House launches new program to help youth with drug, alcohol problems
July 17, 2014
Seacoast Online: Ayotte pushes drug bill as city forms nine-officer unit
July 16, 2014
Concord Monitor: New Hampshire ranks No. 3 in prescriptions for certain types of painkillers, CDC finds
July 12, 2014

NHPR: Free opiate treatment resources offered Saturday in Portsmouth
July 11, 2014
Foster's Daily Democrat: Portsmouth holding discussion on opiate abuse
July 4, 2014
Eagle Tribune: CDC drug report concerns NH leaders
July 3, 2014
Seacoast Online: CDC report ranks New Hampshire third in nation for opioid use
July 2, 2014
NHPR: NH ranks high in prescriptions for addictive painkillers
June 26, 2014
Seacoast Online: Legislation introduced to improve monitoring of prescription drugs
June 22, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: New Hampshire, New England leaders bolster prescription drug monitoring programs
June 21, 2014
Union Leader: Sens. Ayotte, Donnelly introduce bill to combat heroin, prescription abuse
June 19, 2014
NHPR: State takes next step in monitoring prescription drug abuse
June 18, 2014
NHPR: Gov. Hassan attends opiate response conference
June 17, 2014
Foster's Daily Democrat: Hassan to attend drug conference in Massachusetts
June 15, 2014
Eagle Tribune: Drug-fueled crimes on rise in Southern NH
June 11, 2014
Seacoast Online: New England governors to discuss drug response
June 9, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: Nashua drug court to kick off, whether federal funds arrive or not
May 23, 2014
Concord Monitor: Drug abuse experts to legislators: More prevention and treatment needed
May 17, 2014
WMUR: White House official, Sen. Shaheen host discussion on drug abuse
May 9, 2014
NHPR: To end addiction epidemic, states focus on stopping doctor shoppers
April 27, 2014
WMUR: NH sites host National Prescription Take Back Day
April 26, 2014
Keene Sentinel: Medication take-back event scheduled for Saturday across the area
Union Leader: Heroin, other drug overdoses alarm community
April 24, 2014
NHPR: Hillsborough County to create drug court, but will it make a dent?
NHPR: Drugs courts in state of funding flux
April 20, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: Advocates unveil PSAs to highlight teen substance abuse
April 18, 2014
Foster's Daily Democrat: NH officials wary of new opioid painkiller Zohydro
April 16, 2014
NHPR: Amid opioid crisis, lawmakers will consider banning a new painkiller
April 15, 2014
Concord Monitor: State senate committee to weigh temporary ban on new painkiller
April 14, 2014
Concord Monitor: New Hampshire ready to start 2 new drug courts
Nashua Telegraph: Senate committee to discuss ban on powerful painkiller Zohydro on Tuesday
April 12, 2014
Seacoast Online: Shaheen, NH Senate alarmed over painkiller
April 13, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: Nashua, Manchester drug courts could open by fall if federal grants get approved
April 8, 2014
Union Leader: Dartmouth-Hitchcock won’t prescribe painkiller Zohydro ER
April 5, 2014
WMUR: Health, government officials seek solutions on drug addiction
March 17, 2014
Union Leader: NH's representatives in Congress join opposition to painkiller Zohydro
March 9, 2014
Keene Sentinel: A new super-painkiller could worsen the opiod abuse epidemic
March 2, 2014
Union Leader: Release of powerful painkiller Zohydro has officials worried
Nashua Telegraph: Safety commissioner concerned about growing drug problem in NH
Seacoast Online: NH leaders say drug addiction is driving crime
March 1, 2014
Union Leader: New program to take aim at prescription drug abusers
Nashua Telegraph: New NH program will fight drug addiction
February 24, 2014
Concord Monitor: Drug that combats heroin overdoses unavailable to most NH emergency responders
February 22, 2014
WMUR: TIP411 texts can fight prescription drug abuse
February 16, 2014
Union Leader: 'Alarming' rise seen in drug-addicted infants
February 14, 2014
Valley News: Opiates and ordinary lives
February 10, 2014
Seacoast Online: Northern New England tackles growing drug problem
Citizen of Laconia: Northern New England officials tackle the region's growing drug problem
February 7, 2014
Eagle Tribune: Keeping children safe around pills and medication
Nashua Telegraph: NH near the top in the nation for alcohol, drug-related arrests on college campuses
February 3, 2014
Keene Sentinel: Ready access, low cost, pill-like high: Heroin's rise and fatal draw
January 26, 2014
NHPR: $2.25M grant to help N.H. substance abuse screening
January 23, 2014
NHPR: House bill calls for new drug testing rules at N.H. hospitals
December 15, 2013
Keene Sentinel: Drug-addicted newborns a growing problem for doctors, health officials
Keene Sentinel: VA doctors must reduce painkiller prescriptions
Foster's Daily Democrat: N.H. lags in alcohol, drug treatment options
December 11, 2013
Keene Sentinel: Board to update policy after study finds concerning alcohol and drug use at Keene High
November 26, 2013
Keene Sentinel: Unemployment boosts odds of substance abuse
November 13, 2013
NHPR: Coos youth more prone to depression and drug abuse than rural counterparts nationwide
November 3, 2013
Valley News: Rate of drug-exposed newborns shows dramatic increase in N.H.
November 1, 2013
Concord Monitor: N.H. sees sharp increase in newborns who were exposed to drugs before birth
October 27, 2013
Seacoast Online: Report: N.H. 18-25 group abusing prescription drugs
WMUR: Granite State hosts prescription drug take-back programs
Foster's Daily Democrat: Take-back collects hundreds of pounds of drugs
October 26, 2013
WMUR: NH youth prescription drug abuse above national average
Union Leader: NH prescription drug abuse higher than national average
Eagle Tribune: N.H. police collecting unused prescription drugs
October 25, 2013
Nashua Telegraph: New Hampshire's addiction to prescription drugs
NHPR: Newborns facing withdrawal symptoms on rise in state
October 7, 2013
WMUR: Report: States failing to curb prescription abuse
September 24, 2013
Union Leader: Laconia chief says heroin now drug of choice because of crackdown on Rx drugs
September 21, 2013
Valley News: Lawmakers target Craigslist drug ads
September 16, 2013
NHPR: NH groups awarded federal grants for substance abuse prevention
September 12, 2013
Foster's Daily Democrat: N.H. gets grant for prescription drug monitoring
September 11, 2013
Valley News: FDA announces new labeling rules for opiod painkillers
NHPR: Nashua police say spike in armed robberies tied to drug addiction
WMUR: FDA to require warning labels for painkillers
September 5, 2013
Seacoast Online: N.H. gets grant to monitor prescription drugs
September 4, 2013
Eagle Tribune: Overdose deaths prompt call for 'responsible partying'
September 2, 2013
Concord Monitor: State prescription drug monitoring program waiting on grant funding
August 28, 2013
Keene Sentinel: Rising drug and alcohol use at Keene High a problem study aims to tackle
August 27, 2013
Seacoast Online: Police, watchdogs host forum to combat drug abuse
August 18, 2013
Seacoast Online: Prescription drug abuse is on the rise
Seacoast Online: Prescription drug abuse difficult to police
August 16, 2013
NHPR: Monitoring program part of state's plan to curb prescription drug abuse
August 15, 2013
NHPR: Infographic: Drugs in the Queen City
NHPR: Manchester police fight rising tide of drugs
July 23, 2013

WMUR: Town of Hanover installs drug return box
July 19, 2013
Keene Sentinel: Be aware, don't share: Preventing teen prescription drug misuse
July 13, 2013
Union Leader: 'Doctor shopping' is a 'daily problem'
July 8, 2013
Seacoast Online: Substance abuse poses workplace challenge
July 3, 2013
WMUR: Women's prescription drug deaths skyrocket
June 26, 2013
Keene Sentinel: Americas other drug problem: Prescriptions not taken
Eagle Tribune: State police make 'doctor shopping,' prescription fraud arrests
June 23, 2013
Valley News: Addiction doctor defends unconventional approach
June 14, 2013
Citizen of Laconia: Groups push for substance abuse treatment funding
June 10, 2013
Keene Sentinel: Ask the Doctor: What you need to know about opiod prescription painkiller addiction
June 8, 2013
Foster's Daily Democrat: Growing drug problem tackled at conference
May 31, 2013
Foster's Daily Democrat: Summit on N.H. prescription drug abuse epidemic
May 14, 2013
Seacoast Online: How to dispose of unused prescriptions
May 13, 2013
Seacoast Online: Northern New England sees surge in heroin use
May 6, 2013
NHPR: Video postcards urge Senate to boost substance abuse program funding
May 5, 2013
Union Leader: Tons of turned-in, unwanted medication shows public health risk resulting from not following doctors' orders
Union Leader: Police cite addictions in uptick in armed robberies
May 1, 2013
Seacoast Online: Retired officer talks war on drugs
April 28, 2013
Foster's Daily Democrat: Drug takeback gets medication out of homes
April 27, 2013
Seacoast Online: National, local effort to take back prescription drugs
Seacoast Online: Community talk to focus on teen drug abuse
April 26, 2013
NHPR: Prescription drug 'take-back' day in New Hampshire
April 25, 2013
Nashua Telegraph: Prescription drug take-back day
April 16, 2013
Seacoast Online: Prescription drug abuse topic of latest police Dispatch
April 10, 2013
Foster's Daily Democrat: Regional Prescription Drug Taskforce to meet in Somersworth
March 27, 2013
Seacoast Online: Portsmouth school officials on drug abuse: More help needed from parents
March 26, 2013
Concord Monitor: NH bill aims to prevent drug, alcohol overdoses
March 25, 2013
Nashua Telegraph: Substance abuse talk with regional poison call center sheds light on severe drug abuse in New Hampshire
Keene Sentinel: Poison deaths on the rise in New Hampshire
March 19, 2013
Seacoast Online: Prescription drug use a 'huge problem' in Seabrook
March 7, 2013
Seacoast Online: Regional prescription drug task force to meet in Somersworth
March 4, 2013
Foster's Daily Democrat: Agencies targeting drug, alcohol abuse
February 25, 2013
Keene Sentinel: Preventing medication fraud and abuse starts at home
February 23, 2013
Citizen of Laconia: Overdose deaths up for 11th consecutive year
Citizen of Laconia: Group offers plan to reduce substance abuse in NH
February 17, 2013
Seacoast Online: Spiral of addiction even more dangerous
February 16, 2013
Union Leader: Police say 'sophisticated' school drug rings not widespread in NH
February 14, 2013
Foster's Daily Democrat: What every parent should know about prescription drug abuse
January 31, 2013
WMUR: Preventing prescription drug abuse
January 26, 2013
WMUR: Panel prods FDA to restrict hydrocodone
January 21, 2013
NHPR: Bill would require drug testing for welfare applicants
January 18, 2013
Union Leader: 'Cocktail tax' suggested to fund abuse programs
January 15, 2013
NHPR: Lawmakers mull immunity for overdose calls
January 14, 2013
Union Leader: State's chief justice pushes for institution of drug courts
WMUR: Preventing prescription drug abuse
January 13, 2013
Eagle Tribune: Expanded DUI law in effect in N.H.
January 7, 2013
Keene Sentinel: Preventing prescription drug abuse
December 31, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Addiction to strong narcotic pain-killers killing more
December 19, 2012
Keene Sentinel: Concerns swell over drugs from Canada
December 17, 2012
WMUR: Concern over generic painkillers mounts
December 2, 2012
Keene Sentinel: Drug addiction is not just a supply problem
November 28, 2012
Keene Sentinel: Helped or hooked?
Keene Sentinel: Rx abuse proves local issue, too
November 19, 2012
Seacoast Online: Maine doctors help fight prescription abuse
WMUR: Prescription drug deaths: Two stories
November 15, 2012
Concord Monitor: State moving forward with prescription tracking, tools for doctors to combat pain medication abuse
November 14, 2012
WMUR: Let's end accidental prescription drug deaths
NHPR: State looking for new tools to battle prescription drug abuse
November 10, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: NH doctors have new tool to fight prescription drug abuse
October 1, 2012
Associated Press: NH receives $3.6 million grant for drug abuse prevention
September 28, 2012
Seacoast Online: Prescription drug addiction takes heavy toll
Seacoast Online: Prescription drug take-back across Seacoast on Saturday
September 26, 2012
Keene Sentinel: Prescription abuse in age group down
September 21, 2012
Keene Sentinel: Prescription drug abuse to frame public summit Monday
September 12, 2012
Keene Sentinel: KSC to host forum on prescription abuse
Keene Sentinel: Prescription drub abuse, suicide linked
September 10, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Concerns raised about growing link between prescription drug abuse and suicide
September 9, 2012
Seacoast Online: Students say PHS not immune to drug abuse
August 28, 2012
Concord Monitor: Drug court signed into law
Nashua Telegraph: New path for drug offenders in NH
August 27, 2012
Seacoast Online: Gov. Lynch to sign bill on drug courts, DUI rules
Seacoast Online: NH law backs expanding drug courts
August 8, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: Regional Prescription Drug Taskforce to meet in Somersworth
July 29, 2012

Foster's Daily Democrat: Relative of Rx addicts 'planning on going to their funerals'
July 27, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Canine drug searches will return to Nashua high schools for 2012-2013 school year
July 25, 2012
Keene Sentinel: Preventing prescription drug abuse
July 19, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: Strafford County Drug Treatment Court showing success
July 11, 2012
WMUR: FDA announces new opiod safety plan
June 25, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: State leadership group tackles the damage of alcohol and drug abuse
June 13, 2012
Seacoast Online: Lynch signs N.H. bill for prescription drug database
June 12, 2012
NHPR: Lynch signs prescription drug law
Union Leader: State joins national push for prescription drug tracking
May 17, 2012
Union Leader: House votes for statewide prescription drug monitoring
May 11, 2012
NHPR: When generation Rx grows up
May 5, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: County's prescription drug task force holds meeting in Somersworth
May 2, 2012
Keene Sentinel: 1 addict is born each hour in US
April 28, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Drug Take-Back drives scheduled across region Saturday
April 7, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: Legal, medical, educational forces unite in Somersworth to confront prescription drug abuse
March 22, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: Senate moves prescription control bill forward
Seacoast Online: Database to track prescriptions OK'd
February 5, 2012
Concord Monitor: State considers prescription drug database
February 3, 2012
Seacoast Online: Prescription drug monitoring program proposed
February 1, 2012

NHPR: Prescription Drug Abuse Plan Calls for Monitoring, Awareness - and Funding
January 31, 2012
Seacoastonline: City officials evaluate youth risk assessment
January 5, 2012
Union Leader: Ex-Wolfeboro officer pleads guilty to stealing Oxycodone
October 25, 2011
Seacoastonline: Police boss: Prescription drug abuse No. 1 problem
February 26, 2010
Concord Monitor: Prescription drug abuse on rise