Public Law, Chapter 488: An Act To Prevent Opiate Abuse by Strengthening the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program

Maine's new controlled substances law imposes new requirements on Maine’s veterinarians. The law has two components that will impact veterinarians:

  1. It requires that licensed veterinarians in Maine check the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) if prescribing an opiate or benzodiazepine;
  2. It also requires licensed veterinarians receive three hours of CE on the prescription of opiates every two years. The first of which must be completed by 12/31/2017.

The rules for the law can be read in full here. They were introduced January 2, 2017 as emergency rules and therefore did not have a public comment period. The public comment period is open now, and you may submit comments/concerns hereWe strongly encourage everyone with concerns to submit comments to the above link.

On February 13th at 9am there will be a public hearing at which to physically voice concerns to those involved in reviewing the rules. Location: Conference Room 209B Augusta Armory 179 Western Ave Augusta, ME 04330. Note, these comments need to be in direct relation to how the rule is written and cannot change the law. We strongly encourage those who can attend to speak do so. We will be in attendance specifically speaking to recommend adding veterinarians to the liability exclusion similar to how pharmacists are listed, and also to exclude veterinarians that do not use these medications from needing to register/participate in the PMP. We will also be requesting further guidance as to how veterinarians are to interpret search findings. UPDATE: The PMP hearing scheduled for Monday, February 13, 2017 has been rescheduled due to weather. The meeting will now be held on Thursday, February 16th at 9:00am. More details available here.

Below we have summarized the points that relate to the practice of veterinary medicine. Please note, the rules for the CE requirement have not yet been released and are not included below.

MVMA Legislative Chair, Dr. Amanda Bisol, created a presentation which nicely describes the law, its implications, and how to use the PMP. Please download that presentation here. We have also developed a consent form that can be used with clients prior to checking the PMP. Click here to download the form.

Checking the PMP System

  • All veterinarians who prescribe opiates or benzodiazepines must register as data requesters with the PMP (click here to register). Any questions about registering or using the PMP should be directed to the PMP administrator. See contact information for the PMP administrator below. 
  • All veterinarians must check the records of the indvidual seeking care for the animal, and if appropriate the owner, prior to prescribing opiates or benzodiazepines. A valid state or federal photo ID should be checked, and a birthdate and full name must be acquired in order to check the PMP of an individual.
  • All written prescriptions must include a DEA number. See below for more details on the DEA number.
  • All prescriptions intended for use by an animal must indicate such use on the prescription. We recommend writing "For animal use" on the bottom of the prescription.
  • Diagnosis and exemption codes are not required on veterinary prescriptions.
  • As of July 1, 2017, veterinarians with the capability to prescribe electronically will be required to do so. In April 2017 a waiver is expected to be released that will allow veterinarians without the capability to apply to be exempt. For exact wording on the electronic prescribing requirements click here.

The following information needs to be reviewed prior to prescribing:

  1. Aggregate Morphine Milligram Equivalent for the person or whom the medication is being prescribed.  The aggregate Morphine Milligram Equivalent is the total daily Morphine Milligram Equivalent for the individual, to include the anticipated new prescription.
  2. The number of prescribers currently prescribing controlled substances to the individual.
  3. The number of pharmacies currently filling prescriptions for controlled substances for the individual.

Reporting Suspected Abuse

In the event that a veterinarian suspects that the owner or individual bringing the animal to treatment is seeking opiates or benzodiazepines for abuse, he or she should contact the PMP administrator:

Evelyn Sharkey, Prescription Monitoring Program Coordinator
Fax: 207-287-4334

Restrictions and Exceptions

For acute pain, no more than 7 days supply may be prescribed.

For chronic pain management, the PMP must be rechecked every 90 days.

When a veterinarian directly orders or administers a benzodiazepine or opioid medication to an animal in an emergency setting, the requirement to check the prescription monitoring information system does not apply. Veterinarians writing prescriptions to be filled upon discharge from an emergency setting must check the prescription monitoring information system.

CE Requirement 

  • Veterinarians will be required to complete three hours of CE related to the prescription of opioids by December 31, 2017, and subsequently every two years.
  • The Board of Veterinary Medicine is expected to release a draft of the rules for this requirement soon.
  • The Board of Veterinary Medicine is in the process of creating specific rules for what CE will be acceptable to meet this requirement. We do not know if this CE will be included in the current 24 hour requirement or in addition to it.


CE Opportunities


Enforcement and Penalties

Fines of $250 for each infraction will be levied with a maximum of $5,000 per year.

In a letter for the Department of Health and Human Services dated December 19, 2016, the MVMA was informed of the following:

  • The Board of Veterinary Medicine will not be informed of any noncompliance until AFTER March 1, 2017.
  • No penalties will be levied until AFTER October 1, 2017.

 DEA License Requirements

  • People without a DEA number may register for the PMP using their employer's DEA number. 
  • DEA numbers must be included on all prescriptions.
  • For individuals with a personal DEA number, but no hospital DEA number, the personal DEA number may be used.

Questions about the PMP

If you have specific questions about registering for the PMP, please contact:

Evelyn Sharkey, Prescription Monitoring Program Coordinator
Fax: 207-287-4334

Questions? Contact the MVMA at