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Mandates to Use State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PMPs): Implications for Health Care Providers

A Whitepaper by Sherry L. Green, Esq.


Forty-six (46) Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses.

The growing problem of prescription drug abuse and diversion has stakeholders at all levels – Federal, State, and Local – working hard to try and reverse the trend. Forty-nine states (49), Guam and the District of Columbia have – or are in the process of implementing – prescription drug monitoring programs (PMPs) with the goal of collecting information on controlled substance dispensations and sharing this information with clinicians, pharmacists and other critical stakeholders to identify and curb prescription drug abuse and/or diversion.

However, many states’ programs get limited use from the healthcare community. The most commonly cited reasons include: a) the data is not integrated into the clinical workflows; b) data access is cumbersome and slow; and c) when data is available, it is not presented in the most usable and actionable form. To drive utilization of this important data, several states (twenty-five at the time this paper was written) mandate that in specific circumstances prescribers, and sometimes dispensers, have to check the PMP before they prescribe or dispense controlled substances.

The growing trend of state laws mandating the use of PMP data while treating a patient, without effective integration of the data into electronic health records and pharmacy management systems makes compliance administratively burdensome and takes away valuable time from patient care.

The healthcare providers who daily confront these challenges need to earnestly and actively seek out the tools and mechanisms that hold the most promise for facilitating their efficient and effective use of PMP data. In so doing, providers not only help themselves, but also inform government efforts about what works to truly shape a PMP that in practice improves patient care and safety.