ACP calls for national prescription drug-monitoring program

The American College of Physicians (ACP) is calling for a national prescription drug-monitoring program as one of 10 recommendations to help curb the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.

The physican group laid out the recommendations in a policy paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

ACP considers the controlled substances in question to include not only painkillers, but also medications to treat sleep disorders, nerve conditions, weight loss and other conditions, according to an announcement.

It also backs electronic prescribing and urges all 50 states to pass legislation allowing it. In addition it recommends that physicians:

  • Consider non-opioid treatments before turning to highly addictive medications.
  • Have patients sign "patient-provider treatment agreements" or "pain contracts" prior to pain treatment.

Until a national drug-monitoring program is created, it supports efforts to standardize state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP).

"Prescribers and dispensers should check PDMPs in their own and neighboring states (as permitted) prior to writing or filling prescriptions for medications containing controlled substances. All PDMPs should maintain strong protections to assure confidentiality and privacy," it says.

Forty-nine states have at least passed legislation to create databases to track prescriptions in attempts to stem doctor shopping for painkillers and to track questionable prescribing habits. Only Missouri has not.

States, however, report varying levels of provider participation--and hence, success--with such efforts. Doctors in some areas report that "doctor shopping" remains a daily problem, largely because consequences for physicians are too lenient.

Last month, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT launched a framework to create a common technical standard to allow PDMPs to share data with health IT tools used by providers for clinical decision support. That initiative has been called a boon to efforts to curb prescription drug abuse.

To learn more:
- find the policy paper
- here's the announcement


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