Prescription Drug Abuse Monitoring Programs Offer Value to States Combating Misuse

Prescription Drug Abuse Monitoring Programs Offer Value to States Combating Misuse

05.07.14 | By John Castellani

Each year at the National Prescription Drug Abuse Summit, discussions take place regarding the latest resources and tools for states, pharmacists, physicians, and law enforcement to use in combating the misuse and abuse of prescription medicines. For PhRMA, ensuring the appropriate use of medicines and preventing fraud and diversion of prescription medicines is of paramount importance.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are important tools for the prevention of the misuse and abuse of prescription medicines.  These programs, which have been put into place in many states, allow for health care professionals to detect when individuals seek prescriptions for controlled substances from multiple providers in a short period of time—a practice known as “doctor shopping.” PDMPs offer a great opportunity to stop prescription drug diversion in its tracks and an ongoing discussion is currently taking place on how to enhance them.

As such, this week in our Conversations forum, we posed the following question:

The annual National Prescription Drug Abuse Summit touches upon a range of issues including prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). What do you see as key areas of opportunity for strengthening these programs?

Experts agreed that PDMPs are necessary to ensure patients suffering from real pain symptoms have access to the treatments they need when they need them, and do not contribute to prescription drug abuse and diversion. They also indicated that incentive-based approaches to help educate pharmacists and physicians on how to consult PDMP databases and a user friendly approach would facilitate monitoring the flow of prescribed medications.

Specifically, the American Medical Association highlighted Ohio, which has successfully implemented a good-working PDMP. In the state, PDMPs were placed in hospital emergency departments. The result showed “41 percent of prescribers equipped with PDMP data actually altered their prescribing habits when the data showed some patients were receiving multiple simultaneous prescriptions for controlled substances. Of those prescribing providers with PDMP data, 61 percent prescribed no opiates or fewer than they had originally planned.” This change in prescribing emphasizes that PDMP data can help inform medical professionals and reduce the misuse and abuse of prescription medicines.

The Ohio example is in line with PhRMA’s commitment to assess the effectiveness of existing PDMPs and explore enhancements. Strengthening these programs, as our respondents discussed, also needs a strong emphasis on collaboration among all stakeholders and even among different states to identify who from the health care ecosystem should be involved in implementing PDMPs. Dr. Srinivas Nalamachu with Alliance for Patient Access noted, “State-run programs address abuse with varied success in their own states, but interstate cooperation could improve PDMPs’ effectiveness.”

Finally, campaigns such as the Medicine Abuse Project, a project of, “aims to prevent half a million teens from abusing medicine by 2017.” This worthy goal touches upon the importance of treating and curbing prescription drug abuse among America’s youth before it has the ability to take hold of someone’s life.

I want to thank all of our Conversations contributors for lending their voice to such an important topic. To learn more about prescription medicines and additional details on PhRMA’s perspective, click here.


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