Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Curb Opioid Prescribing

HealthDay News —  Implementation of prescription drug monitoring programs can reduce the prescribing of Schedule II opioids, according to a study published in the June issue of Health Affairs.

Yuhua Bao, PhD, from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, and colleagues examined the effect of state prescription drug monitoring programs on the prescribing of opioid analgesics and other pain medications using data from a national survey. Data were included for prescribing in ambulatory care settings at the point of care in 24 states from 2001 to 2010.

The researchers found that there was a more than 30% reduction in the rate of prescribing of Schedule II opioids associated with implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program. The reduction was seen immediately following the program launch and persisted through the second and third years. Limited effects were seen on overall opioid prescribing and prescribing of non-opioid analgesics.

“Increased use of these programs and the adoption of new policies and practices governing their use may have contributed to sustained effectiveness,” the authors write. “Future studies are needed to evaluate the policies’ comparative effectiveness.”

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Bao Y, Pan Y, Taylor A, et al. Prescription drug monitoring programs are associated with sustained reductions in opioid prescribing by physicians. Health Affair. 2016;35:1045-1051.