Guest Blog Post by Brandeis University Leader Explains Updates on PDMP Programs

Guest Blog Post by Brandeis University Leader Explains Updates on PDMP Programs

10.01.12 | By kicked off an amazing campaign to promote consumer awareness of safe medicine use and disposal - if you haven't seen their parent and teacher toolkits, you're missing out. And while their Project's kickoff may be over, our work to reduce prescription drug abuse continues on. In keeping that fire burning, I've asked PDMP Center of Excellence at Brandeis University Director John Eadie to guest blog post about what's going on in their neck of the woods.

By John Eadie, Director, PDMP Center of Excellence at Brandeis University

I want to thank Kaelan Hollon for the invitation to post for the Catalyst in my capacity as Director of the PDMP Center of Excellence at Brandeis University. As readers are no doubt aware, overdoses and deaths from non-medical use of prescription controlled substances now outnumber those from street drugs, constituting our nation's biggest illicit drug problem. Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) show great promise in contributing to a solution while supporting the appropriate use of these important medications. Now operational or being instituted in all states but Missouri, PDMPs collect data from pharmacies on dispensed controlled substances. They make these data available by request, or proactively via unsolicited reports, to authorized end users. Typically, users are prescribers and pharmacists and, depending on the state, also include practitioner licensing boards, law enforcement agencies, drug courts, medical examiners, substance abuse treatment and prevention programs, and Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Among their many applications, PDMP data help guide clinical decision making by identifying the majority of patients who are utilizing controlled substances as medically directed, as well as those that might be engaged in questionable activity such as doctor shopping. Additionally, they can highlight possible illegal prescribing (e.g., pill mills), and pharmacy fraud. Unsolicited reports can alert practitioners and others regarding persons who may be misusing or abusing controlled substances or using dangerous drug combinations. PDMPs data can also be used epidemiologically to identify prescribing patterns and trends by drug and geographic area. Such uses help move toward improved clinical care, reduced diversion, targeted prevention and treatment programs, and, ultimately, reduced overdoses and deaths while saving millions of dollars from prescription drug fraud and abuse. PDMPs were cited as a major component in the Office of National Drug Control Policy's 2011 plan to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic.

The PDMP Center of Excellence is helping these programs maximize their effectiveness. PDMPs are exploring innovative uses of their data and ways to increase their impact. We've documented many of these in a recently completed white paper on PDMP best practices and their evidence base. We identified best or promising practices from data collection and analysis, to report dissemination, to expanding their users and scope of applications. The challenge is to help PDMPs adopt best practices and promising practices, especially in pro-actively getting appropriately analyzed data to users. We also strongly recommend their integration into public health and safety systems at the national, state and community levels.

In making efforts to improve PDMPs, we realize it's vital that they assist the legitimate use of prescription medications, e.g. in treating pain. We believe that prescribers and patients have much to gain from prescription monitoring since practitioners' access to accurate information is essential for good clinical management. Likewise, providing epidemiological data to communities-at-risk of prescription drug abuse allows them to focus multiple resources on prevention, intervention and treatment. We welcome the collaboration of all stakeholders to ensure that PDMPs serve the interests of patients, prescribers, pharmacies and the overall health and safety of the public.

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