Looking beyond physician training, Health IT Now urges FDA to consider PDMPs to stem opioid abuse

Hydrocodone opioid pills
Health IT Now says physician training isn't enough—the FDA also needs to focus on integrating PDMPs to stop opioid abuse. Credit: Getty/smartstock

Looking beyond federal efforts to enhance opioid training for physicians, a health IT industry group is calling on regulators to place more emphasis on prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP).

Earlier this week, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced the agency will require pharmaceutical companies to offer more education to doctors that prescribe immediate-release opioids to ensure proper prescribing practices.

RELATED: FDA commissioner will require more doctor education, training on opioids

Health IT Now—a broad coalition of providers, payers and patient groups—believes the agency can do more. In a letter (PDF) to Gottlieb, the group said educational efforts need to be supplemented with PDMPs that can operate across state lines and integrate into clinician workflow.

In some regions of the country, states already work collaboratively to allow physicians to view what medications patients have received across state lines. Michigan recently announced it is building PDMP data into hospital EHRs to make it easier for clinicians to access.

RELATED: Mandatory PDMP participation helped 3 states drive down opioid prescriptions

Health IT Now highlighted recommendations (PDF) issued in November by the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs which called for a “data facilitator” to aggregate information into a central repository—which Health IT Now referred to as a “Patient Safety Network.” This central repository could provide alerts to clinicians while using HIPAA compliant standards to integrate data into clinical workflows.

“Enhancing the existing PDMP structure through the use of proven technology is a commonsense and proactive approach to reducing the instances of addiction and death ultimately caused by the abuse of prescription drugs and opioids,” Health IT Now Executive Director Joel White wrote.

While many agree that PDMPs are beneficial to curbing opioid abuse, whether those programs should be mandated has become a somewhat contentious issue. Some say better integration with EHRs would improve physician usage, while recent CDC data shows three states that required physicians to view or report to PDMPs saw significant decreases in opioid prescribing.