While working at the Duluth News Tribune, I did a series of stories looking at problems with methadone treatment in Minnesota. Some of those stories included how drug addicts were getting high off the drug, using taxpayer dollars to buy it only to turn around and sell it on the streets, and how some users were dying from the drug. Unfortunately, following the publication of the series, two people from the Cloquet area were killed when their car was hit by two people returning from a methadone clinic. The driver of that car was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide for driving under the influence of methadone.
Following a hearing in December, the state's Department of Human services have helped members of the both the Minnesota House and Senate draft proposed changes to the oversight of methadone. According to the state Department of Human Services, which oversees methadone treatment and licensing in the state, those changes could include:
* Allowing the DHS to act on violations at methadone clinics more quickly
* Require methadone clinics to review patients' medication histories in the the state's Prescription Monitoring Program, and to allow clinics to enter their patients' records in the PMP program. Doing this could catch patients who are doctor- and prescription-shopping.
* Require clinics to provide more counseling to patients, and to do more to make sure that methadone isn't being sold outside of a clinic.
The legislation appears to have bipartisan support, at least on the Senate side, with that version of the bill sponsored by Sens. Tony Lourey, DFL-Cartlon, Jeremy Miller, R-Winona and Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont. The House version is sponsored by Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth.