States can improve their prescription drug monitoring programs by better collecting, analyzing and sharing data, according to a new report funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, MedPage Today reports.
Prescription drug monitoring programs, or PDMPs, collect data electronically on controlled substances dispensed from pharmacies.
In the report, researchers at Brandeis University's PDMP Center for Excellence stated that 49 states currently have PDMPs or are in the process of creating one (Fiore, MedPage Today, 9/20). However, the researchers noted that many states do not make optimal use of the prescription drug data that their PDMPs collect.
The report found that sending alerts about possible drug misuse to pharmacists and physicians was tied to lower prescription drug sales and lower rates of "doctor shopping" (Lee, Modern Healthcare, 9/21). Doctor shopping refers to when individuals visit multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions for addictive controlled substances (iHealthBeat, 6/6).
According to the report, states that collect prescribing data for all controlled substances also had lower rates of doctor shopping.
The report also found that increases in physician participation in PDMPs were associated with reductions in fatal prescription drug overdoses (Modern Healthcare, 9/21).
For PDMPs to operate more effectively, the researchers recommended that states:
- Collect information on all schedules of controlled substances;
- Move toward real-time data collection;
- Standardize data fields across all PDMPs;
- Integrate PDMPs with electronic prescribing systems;
- Link health records for individual patients to make it easier to detect doctor shopping;
- Establish criteria for identifying questionable activity by patients and prescribers;
- Set up automated systems to send reports on prescribing data to clinicians, law enforcement officials, drug control agencies and drug misuse treatment centers; and
- Share prescribing data across state lines (MedPage Today, 9/20).