States Take Steps To Increase Use of Prescription Drug Monitoring

June 2, 2014 in News

Last week, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D) signed into law a bill that would require nearly 6,000 health care providers in the state to register with its controlled substances database in an effort to prevent prescription drug misuse, the Providence Journal reports.

In September 2012, the state launched the database, called the Prescription Monitoring Program, which tracks every prescription filled at a pharmacy in the state for:

  • Narcotics;
  • Stimulants; and
  • Tranquilizers.

Prescribers can use the database to see whether a patient is obtaining drugs from various physicians or pharmacies, which is a common indicator that an individual is misusing or diverting the drugs. In addition, the database allows providers to create alerts that notify other users and state regulators of suspected prescription drug misuse.

So far, fewer than 20% of the state’s 7,300 providers licensed to prescribe controlled substances have registered to use the system.

Under the new law, physicians, nurses, dentists and other health care providers are required to register with the database when they first obtain or renew licenses that allow them to prescribe controlled substances.

However, the law does not require providers to consult the database before prescribing controlled substances.

James McDonald, chief administrative officer at Rhode Island Board of Licensure and Discipline, called the new law “a great step forward.” He added, “I think the vast majority of physicians are going to find the [prescription monitoring program] is an easy tool to use … and it really helps them provide better care to patients” (Arditi, Providence Journal, 5/29).

Prescription Monitoring Program Being Used in 25 States

In related news, 25 states now are using the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s PMP InterConnect program, Health Data Management reports (Goth, Health Data Management, 5/30).

The program, which launched in 2011, facilitates data sharing of states’ prescription monitoring programs across state lines (iHealthBeat, 9/4/12).

According to Health Data Management, Idaho, Nevada and New Jersey recently began using the InterConnect program. In addition, several other states have signaled their intentions to participate and are working to connect with the system in 2014.

NABP said, “With half of the states now sharing PMP data via this secure communication platform, authorized PMP users in those states are able to see a more complete history of patients’ controlled substance prescriptions, helping health care providers identify possible misuse or abuse” (Health Data Management, 5/30).

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