Prescription Monitoring Programs

Controlled substance monitoring may be the best approach to solving opioid addiction

(RxWiki News) Treating addiction to painkillers may start with electronic monitoring of prescriptions. Doctor shopping and selling excess prescriptions may be a thing of the past.

A recent study looked into the effectiveness of prescription monitoring programs.

Results found that when they were put to use, they could lower drug abuse and encourage drug abuse treatment.

"Talk to your doctor for help with drug treatment."

Traci C. Green, PhD, research scientist in internal medicine at Rhode Island Hospital, led an investigation into the use of a patient monitoring program to reduce painkiller abuse.

For the study, anonymous surveys were sent to health care professionals licensed to prescribe Schedule II medications.

Schedule II painkillers include controlled opioids like morphine, fentanyl and oxycodone.

A total of 16,924 licensed professionals from Connecticut (CT) and 5,567 from Rhode Island (RI) were contacted in 2011.

Questions from the survey included inquiries about the use of a prescription monitoring program (PMP) and responses to suspected doctor shopping.

PMPs allow health care providers to record and track patient prescription history.

Only 1,385 health care providers responded to the survey.

In CT, 36 percent of providers used PMPs to screen for drug abuse. In RI, only 10 percent reported using PMPs. CT has an electronic PMP to make monitoring easier.

Doctor shopping, where patients go to more than one doctor to get multiple prescriptions, was reported by 44 percent of CT providers and 19 percent in RI.

Dr. Green said, “Clinicians, not law enforcement have the medical and behavioral health care expertise to guide patients struggling with addiction to get the help they need, when they are ready for it.”

“PMPs can be an important clinical tool to address possible addiction issues and start that conversation.”

Dr. Green goes on to point out that better detection of prescription drug abuse creates a need for increased drug treatment programs.

By detecting drug abuse in a clinical setting, health care providers are in the perfect position to put addicts in touch with the proper treatment.

Dr. Green said, “PMPs raise red flags we could be missing on our own.”

This study was published in July in Pain Medicine. Funding for this study was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Lifespan Health System, no conflicts of interest were found.

Review Date: 
August 21, 2012