How useful are drug monitoring programs? 5 report insights

For Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs to be of clinical value, they must be integrated into EHRs, according to a report sponsored by the Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorder, HCV and HIV and conducted at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Researchers from the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania released their issue brief analyzing findings from previous reports and surveys in order to review the status and evaluate the effectiveness of PDMPs.

Here are five report insights.

1. All states except Missouri have functioning PDMPs, but enrollment in these programs is not mandatory. Currently, 13 states require both prescribers and dispensers to use PDMPs, while 21 states only require prescribers to use PDMPs.

2. Overall, the study finds PDMPs effective in addressing the opioid crisis. For example, the month after Florida began its PDMP, oxycodone-related deaths declined by 25 percent, and 74 percent of Maryland physicians agreed the state's PDMP was very useful in deciding whether or not to prescribe opioids.

3. In states that implemented a PDMP from 1999-2013, studies indicated reduction of 1.12 prescription opioid-related deaths per 100,000 people the year after PDMP implementation. 

4. In states with a PDMP mandate implemented between 2011 and 2014, physicians prescribed an average of 9-10 percent less Schedule II opioids to Medicaid enrollees, compared to states without PDMP mandates.

5. As of July 2015, only four states met the CDC PDMP universal use standards, defined as a "requirement that prescribers consult the PDMP before initially prescribing controlled medication for a given patient and at least every three months after that," according to the report.

However, challenges with PDMPs remain, according to the report authors.

"A remaining challenge is that PDMPs do not identify patients who have not been prescribed controlled substances in the past (opioid naïve) but may nevertheless be at risk for substance use disorder based on other risk factors," concludes the report.

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