Understanding the value of prescription drug monitoring programs

prescription drug monitoring program

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are important tools in curbing the opioid crisis and reducing the need for addiction treatment. These are state-run databases that provide pharmacists, clinicians and members of state law enforcement agencies with information about a patient’s prescription history and offer insight into whether they are a risk for prescription drug misuse.

Illinois and New York were among the first states to adopt a PDMP, and today there are 49 states with an operating PDMP. Each state’s best practices take into consideration their individual health priorities, cost/benefit ratios, public support, resources and infrastructure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there were more than 22,000 prescription painkiller overdoses deaths each year.

The benefits of a PDMP include expanded access to controlled substances for medical use, a decreased number of opioid prescriptions, reductions in doctor shopping, prevention of drug diversion and overdose, more information about prescription drug abuse and addiction, awareness of trends and public health initiatives, and facilitating treatment for substance use disorder.

Various studies done on a state-by-state basis showed a clear association with positive health outcomes.

In 2012, both Kentucky and Oklahoma saw their first declines in opioid overdose deaths for the first time in 10 years after implementing a PDMP. Florida, Washington and New York have also reported reductions in overdose deaths, emergency room visits and treatment admissions. States with active PDMPs saw decreases in opioid prescriptions and shipments and were associated with a slower growth in painkiller availability and instances of doctor shopping.

PDMPs also seemed to improve clinical decision-making. A study published in the journal Addiction last November revealed that 70 percent of surveyed Maryland physicians decreased their rate of opioid prescriptions after accessing the program’s data and 74 percent found the data to be “very useful.”

A case study of Ohio, published this year in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, discussed how pharmacists could enhance the effectiveness of… (continue reading)