Sharpening the tool of prescription drug monitoring programs

As prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) become more widely used to fight drug abuse, doctor shopping and health insurance fraud, recommendations to boost PDMP effectiveness are mushrooming.

State-run PDMPs store and distribute prescriptions for controlled substances to help curb medication abuse and diversion. Pharmacies that dispense controlled substances usually must register these prescriptions with either a database or data collector. Increased use of PDMPs is a government-recommended fraud deterrent, as FierceHealthPayer: Anti-Fraud reported.

Wisconsin's PDMP database requires dispensers to record every drug distributed, which helps doctors thwart patients who visit many providers to get large quantities of drugs. But providers aren't required to check the database, and as of last month only 8 percent of authorized prescribers in Wisconsin had registered to use it, according to the Appleton Post Crescent.

"[M]andatory reporting ... is necessary for the thing to have any teeth," Brad Dunlap, head of a police drug enforcement unit in east central Wisconsin, told the Post Crescent. "The abusers will quickly find out who's reporting and who's not and then they'll start frequenting the places that they either know or believe are not [using the database], which of course will defeat the purpose of having it in the first place."

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health proposed regulations requiring doctors to use the state's PDMP whenever they prescribe abuse-prone drugs, such as OxyContin or other opiates, the Boston Herald reported. The state also is shortening its timeline for doctors to begin using the database.

Experts elsewhere advocate developing a national PDMP that crosses state lines, CBS News noted. This would give doctors a complete prescription history for patients who live and obtain medications out of state.

Other ideas to boost the effectiveness of PDMPs include making them available in real time, making them universal (or requiring their use by all prescribers for all controlled substances) and ensuring active management of these programs through instant alerts sent to prescribers, The Daily Beast reported.

For more:
- here's the Post Cresent article
- read the Boston Herald article
- see the CBS News article
- view the Daily Beast article