The over-prescription of painkillers has drastically increased opiod abuse throughout the country. Described as an epidemic, this has mobilized the medical community and government agencies to take action. The CDC provides resources for states to set up preventative programs designed to improve prescribing standards, control the market and protect high-risk patients. They encourage each state to implement, promote, test and improve its own Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, or PDMP.

How do PDMPs Monitor Opiod Prescriptions?

Electronic databases run on the state level track information in real-time. This includes patient prescription history, medications prescribed and medications dispensed. The program then flags discrepancies or potentially at-risk patients, at which point providers, pharmacists, law enforcement and other state agencies may take action.

Use By Healthcare Providers

With the utilization of PDMPs, doctors and other healthcare professionals with the ability to prescribe painkillers are able to see an individual’s historical prescriptions, which in turn makes it possible to avoid prescribing certain medications if they are at risk of abuse.

Pharmacy Use of PDMPs

Whenever a pharmacy receives the prescription, they must enter the information into a statewide PDMP database. This way, every single refill and prescription of painkillers to a single individual is tracked. The pharmacy updates happen in real-time, reducing the likelihood of overprescribing and of patients filling the prescription at a different pharmacy.

As a work in progress, the CDC emphasizes PDMPs’ potential and encourages ingenuity at the state level. Stay tuned for research evaluating PDMPs to identify best practices. Meanwhile, make sure all your pharmacists are up to date on your state’s procedures.