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Talk About Your Medicines Month-3: Importance of prescription drug monitoring programs

The benefits of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in the United States are currently being availed by 49 states, the District of Columbia and Guam (a U.S. territory) that had approved their creation and working. Having an operational PDMP helps these states collect the collated details from dispensers and report the information obtained from the database to sanctioned users. The “Talk About Your Medicines Month” is observed in October every year. Sponsored by the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), the initiative this year emphasizes on promotion of safe and appropriate medicine use through better medicine communication.

Understanding the role of PDMPs

The state-run electronic databases under the PDMPs help track recommendation and disbursement of controlled prescription drugs to patients concerned. As per the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL), PDMP is a state-wide electronic database which assembles classified details of substances distributed in the state.

Designed to check the information obtained to control suspected abuse of prescription painkillers or rerouting of drugs for illicit purposes, PDMPs provide medical practitioners and pharmacists the necessary information concerning a patient’s controlled substance prescription history. The details, in turn, prove to be handy in identifying high-risk patients of opioid abuse and those who need timely intervention.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) came up with a new policy in July 2016 which makes it mandatory for Indian Health Service (IHS) clinicians to use their state PDMP databases before prescribing any opioid for more than seven days. The initiative looks at fighting the opioid epidemic.

Stressing on the purpose of the newly announced policy, the HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said, “The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States. More Americans now die from drug overdoses than car crashes, and these overdoses have hit families from every walk of life and across our entire nation.”

Benefits of PDMPs

With the rise in the use of prescription opioids leading to epidemic, the implementation of PDMPs serves many purposes to physicians, pharmacists, patients and law enforcement agencies.

  • For prescribers: Having a PDMPs enables increased awareness among medical practitioners about all the active controlled medications prescribed to a patient. On checking PDMPs prior to writing prescription, doctors get to know whether their patients have been obtaining prescriptions from multiple doctors or pharmacies. And in case they are doing so, they can be restricted from obtaining further prescriptions for the same.
  • For pharmacists: Use of PDMPs helps pharmacologists ensure that patients have access to necessary medications. PDMPs help alert pharmacists against any prescriptions which are likely to be used for illegal purposes. The method also helps them understand questionable prescriber patterns that need to be investigated immediately.
  • For patients: The prevalence of excessive opioid exposure or tendency to overdose on opioids can be checked with the help of PDMPs. The data contained in the PDMPs help provide necessary information about patients’ tendency to misuse drugs prescribed by multiple sources, thus, restricting patients’ tendency to abuse drugs. Patients who have been misusing drugs can be encouraged to seek expert advice before the situations worsen. Prescriptions fraudulently billed in others’ names can also be checked using PDMPs.
  • For law enforcement agencies: The available details on PDMPs help regulatory agencies identify patients with questionable patterns of obtaining prescription opioids or other drugs identified as controlled substances. The method also helps identify prescribers who have been relentlessly recommending these medicines without taking into account the prescription or medical history of their patients. PDMPs also saves time of law enforcement agencies who can get to know about frauds committed in a bid to satiate cravings for drugs.

Scope of recovery

Prescription drug abuse has developed into an epidemic in the U.S. Though opioids are prescribed to patients for relieving pain, over a period of time, people use these medications only for additional relief, thus, increasing the risks of developing a dependence on them. If you or your loved one is addicted and is looking for help, contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline for more information on drug addiction rehabilitation centers available in your vicinity. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online for further advice on addiction treatment centers in the U.S.

Read the other articles of the series based on the “Talk About Your Medicines Month”:

 Talk About Your Medicines Month-1: Know more about your prescriptions

Talk About Your Medicines Month-2: Understanding potency of opioid addiction

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