In June, New Hampshire became the 49th state to enact a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), giving medical professionals a powerful tool for reducing the diversion and abuse of opioid painkillers and other prescription drugs. The move left Missouri as the only state in the Nation that has not passed legislation to take advantage of this promising program. On Wednesday, Director Kerlikowske joined Missouri State Senator Kevin Engler, Director of the Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA) David Barton, and Thomas Heard, the parent of an overdose victim, to discuss the importance of supporting efforts to monitor and track prescription drugs in Missouri and across the United States.
Rates of drug overdose deaths—driven primarily by prescription pain relievers—increased roughly five-fold between 1990 and 2007. The decade from 1998 to 2008 saw a more than four-fold increase in the proportion of substance abuse treatment admissions reporting any pain reliever abuse.
These are just some of the concerns PDMPs can help address. A PDMP is a database that helps track prescriptions and can act as an early warning system for prescribers to avoid dangerous drug interactions. It is also a tool that can be used to intervene in the early stages of prescription drug abuse, as well as to identify pill mills and reduce doctor shopping. PDMPs can be used by state licensing boards as they seek to weed out prescribers with patterns of inappropriate prescribing and dispensing.
Research supports the effectiveness of PDMPs. A 2010 study at a Toledo, Ohio emergency department (ED), for example, found that ED physicians changed the prescriptions for 41 percent of ED patients after reviewing PDMP data. Sixty-one percent of those patients received fewer or no opioid medications than were originally planned, and 39 percent received more opioid medication than previously planned, because the PDMP data made it clear the patients did not have a recent history of drug abuse.
For years, ONDCP has worked with Federal, state, and non-governmental partners to encourage the development of PDMPs in every state. We are pleased to be just one state shy of realizing this goal, and support those in Missouri working toward establishing a PDMP.
More information about PDMPs is available from the PMP Alliance here.