Prescription drug abuse and misuse in the United States remains a huge problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “in 2017, an estimated 18 million people (more than 6 percent of those aged 12 and older) have misused such medications at least once in the past year.”
In other words, prescription drug abuse is a danger to hundreds of millions of people throughout the country.
While there are many ways to reduce abuse, the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) is on the rise. With systems in place on the state level, both prescribers and pharmacists are able to better pinpoint people who are abusing the medical system to obtain an overabundance of prescription drugs.
Take for example a patient who is addicted to painkillers. They realize their current doctor will only prescribe them what they need, so they begin to look for other ways to secure their drug of choice.
This leads them to visit another provider, describe their pain, and hope that they prescribe the same prescription. When successful, they end up with multiple prescriptions for the drug, thus increasing the likelihood of abuse, health effects, and even death.
However, with the help of a PDMP, this is not nearly as easy. Here’s why: doctors have access to a database of information that shows them active prescriptions for their patients. So, if someone visits them in an attempt to get a drug that was already prescribed, a doctor can turn them down (and maybe get them the help they need).
This is also a helpful tool for pharmacists, as they can protect against filling too many of the same prescriptions for a patient.
Note: many state-managed PDMP systems are becoming available to providers in other states, thus helping protect against patients crossing state lines to secure new prescriptions.
With the use of PDMPs on the rise, it’s the hope that prescription drug abuse across the country will decline.