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Doctor arrested, accused of illegally prescribing opioids

By Adam Bartow

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    KENNEBUNK, Maine (WMTW) — A doctor from Kennebunk was arrested Wednesday and accused of illegally prescribing and distributing opioids and other controlled substances.

This was the first arrest and charges brought by the New England Prescription Opioid Strike Force through the Department of Justice. The Strike Force was launched this summer to combat unlawful prescribing amid the ongoing opioid epidemic.

According to court documents, Merideth C. Norris, D.O., 52, allegedly prescribed opioids, and other controlled substances, outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. Due to what investigators called her dangerous prescribing, as a condition of her release, Norris cannot prescribe any Schedule II-V controlled substances.

Norris is charged with 10 counts of illegal distribution of opioids and other controlled substances. She made her initial court appearance in federal court on Wednesday. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the top counts.

Last year in Maine, a record 632 people died from overdoses. This year, according to the Maine Drug Data Hub, the state is on pace to set a new record with a projected 694 deadly overdoses by year’s end.

A state law implemented in 2016, An Act to Prevent Opiate Abuse by Strengthening the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program, limits the amount of opioids a provider can prescribe for a patient. It also places additional guardrails intended to safeguard against drug abuse.

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