Role of prescription drug monitoring programs in curbing prescription drug abuse

Role of prescription drug monitoring programs in curbing prescription drug abuse

To help reduce the devastations caused by prescription drug abuse, prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) have been employed to gather information on all prescriptions written for controlled substances. PDMPs are primarily state-run electronic databases that assist health care providers to maintain safety while prescribing controlled substances. The repository keeps records of the data regarding prescription and dispensation of controlled and scheduled drugs. The repository even contains data regarding the use of drugs that have the potential to be abused. Whether it is providing safe medications and ensuring that one medication does not counteract adversely with the other, the PDMP provides timely interventions and saves lives.

This kind of information can also be accessed by the following agencies:

  • Law enforcement offices
  • Drug control agencies
  • Drug courts and criminal programs related to drug abuse
  • Addiction centers and programs
  • Payers and insurance
  • Pharmacies
  • Other health care providers

While the primary objective of this system is to identify the high-risk patients, it also proves to be the best way to identify patients who could be involved in nefarious practices such as selling drugs for a price and engaging in “doctor shopping.”

Benefits of prescription drug monitoring programs

The identification of high-risk patients is critical for providing medical interventions especially in the case of emergencies, such as overdosing. A few other benefits of this central repository are as follows:

  • Aiding doctors and pharmacists in identifying high-risk patients and ensuring that they are not denied timely medications.
  • Preventing doctor shopping practices wherein the patient shops for drugs from multiple prescriptions and pharmacies.
  • Segregating “pill mills” or medical centers that engage in the nefarious practice of overprescribing opioid drugs.
  • Offering lifesaving information and interventions.
  • Providing information that can also be used for improving drug use.
  • Can be accessed not only by medical authorities, but also by law enforcement agencies and pharmacists.

These can have multiple benefits, provided health care providers check with the repository before prescribing drugs. In some American states, it is essential for authorities to check the PDMP before dispensing controlled and schedule drugs such as prescription opioids, benzodiazepines, etc. The PDMP proactively watches the way prescription medications are dispersed and raises warning in case any suspicious activity is noticed. Thus, PDMPs can be a useful tool to apprehend the spread of prescription drug epidemic. As this repository exists in real time, it is quite possible for public health authorities to foresee any epidemic or untoward incident in advance, and thereafter take necessary measures to curtail the spread.

Demerits of PDMPs

With the exception of Oklahoma, which ensures that data is collected in real time, most states give a gap of a week or even longer before updating the data in the PDMP  tool. A long interval between dispensation of medications and their registration on the PDMP may not be helpful, as others in the chain, such as providers and health care authorities, will not possess the latest information.

Another concern is related to the security aspects. In the event of data hacking, much of the critical patient information that is meant for review by few agencies only could be leaked, causing undue embarrassment for the patients and their families.

Leading a drug-free life is possible

With the new regulations and guidelines in place, the medical fraternity needs to keep a check on the prescription opioids being dispensed. Fortunately, health care professionals are taking a welcome step to prescribe lesser number of painkillers and recommend alternative treatments.

If you or anyone you know is battling opioid addiction, contact the Florida Prescription Addiction Helpline for immediate help. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-292-3211 to know about the drug treatment centers in Florida offering holistic recovery programs to help a person regain control of his or her life. You may also chat with our online representatives to seek expert advice about some state-of-the-art prescription drug rehab centers in Florida.

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