Forty-three states have established prescription drug monitoring databases to address the growing problems of overprescribing and "doctor shopping," Reuters reports (Wisniewski, Reuters, 5/30).
Doctor shopping refers to when individuals visit multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions for addictive controlled substances (iHealthBeat, 5/7).
Five states have passed laws to develop such databases, but have yet to implement them.
Although there is no national database for prescription drug tracking, many states are sharing such information and most of the systems allow physicians and pharmacists to access information across state lines.
Criticism of Databases
Sherry Green, CEO of the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, said policymakers and stakeholders have debated whether physicians should be required to check the databases when prescribing addictive medications.
Some physicians have argued that the databases could:
- Violate patient confidentiality;
- Interfere with necessary treatments; or
- Be used against physicians who need to prescribe large amounts of pain medications.
Research Supports Databases
However, research shows that the databases have led to declines in prescriptions for addictive drugs.
A study at the University of Toledo College of Medicine found that physicians and pharmacists who consulted with a database changed how they treated patients 41% of the time (Reuters, 5/30).