PA Officials Credit State PDMP for Reduction in Multiple Pharmacy Visits for Opioid Prescriptions

At a meeting of Pennsylvania's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PA PDMP) Board on Tuesday, April 25, Lauren Hughes, MD, MPH, MSc, FAAFP, the Deputy Secretary for Health Innovation at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, announced that documented cases of people visiting five or more clinicians or pharmacies to obtain prescription drugs, such as opioids, fell by 70%, and cases of people visiting ten or more practitioners fell by 94%, which equates to 553 people.  She credited PA’s PDMP—which requires clinicians to check the database before dispensing a prescription—for the decline.   

PA officials attributed multiple clinician or pharmacy visits as “doctor shopping” by addicts that were seeking multiple opioid prescriptions simultaneously.  The state’s PDMP went live in August 2016, and PA officials are reporting that most pharmacies in the state are registered at this time (as they are required to by law) and also cited that per-day patient searches consist of an average of 52,000 on weekdays and 9,000 on weekends.  

In addition, PA officials cited an 11% drop in adults that receive an opioid prescription of more than the equivalent of 100 milligrams of morphine per day, which could be a sign of clinicians are increasing their prudence in dispensing prescription opioids.  

Pennsylvania is also evaluating how it can share its PDMP data with researchers and government officials interested broader public health issues while still preserving patient privacy.  The PDMP Board is establishing a subcommittee to assess and make recommendations on this topic and present them to the full board for consideration.