Panel OKs bill on drug monitoring program

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A bill that would require practitioners to register with Rhode Island's prescription drug monitoring program has been endorsed by a Senate panel.

The health committee approved the legislation Tuesday.

A top health department official said in December that only 20 percent of those allowed to prescribe controlled substances in the state have been using the database. It aims to help prevent drug diversion and misuse.

The committee also approved a bill requiring insurers to cover the anti-overdose drug naloxone and drugs like methadone that are used to treat substance abuse. The legislation also requires hospitals and health care facilities to schedule follow-up appointments for patients with substance use problems.

A health department spokesman said Wednesday the number of accidental overdoses in the state this year is up to 90.

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