Upcoming Forum on Improving Critical Tools for Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse

Anne McDonald Pritchett, PhD   |     June 1, 2015   |   SHARE THIS

nehi_logoOn June 2, the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI) will bring experts from across the country to Boston to discuss a critical public health challenge—the abuse of prescription medicines. PhRMA and its members are committed to the appropriate use of prescription medicines and working with others to address the diversion, misuse, and abuse of prescription medicines, which is why we are joining NEHI and supporting the event, titled “Physicians & PDMPs:  Improving Use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.”

The problem of prescription drug abuse is complex and multi-faceted, and addressing the issue requires a multi-pronged, sustained approach involving a broad range of stakeholders. 

Physicians and other health care providers are on the front lines of this issue and are increasingly the first line of defense in identifying potential “doctor shoppers” – i.e., individuals who visit numerous doctors in an attempt to obtain multiple prescriptions for particular drugs. One of the most promising and effective tools to help prevent diversion and abuse of prescription medicines is the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). These state-run electronic databases provide critical information to prescribers regarding their patients’ controlled prescription drug history. This information can be used to identify drug-seeking behaviors and avoid drug interactions. 

However, according to a report in Health Affairs, a 2014 survey of primary care physicians found that while a majority knew whether their state had a PDMP, one in four primary care physicians in states with a PDMP were unaware they had one. Fortunately, among those who were aware, more than half of them viewed the PDMP as contributing to reduced abuse and diversion of prescription medicines. That said, the survey reinforced prior findings that there are some barriers to greater use of PDMPs among physicians and other health care providers, including the length of time it takes to retrieve information from the databases and the lack of a user-friendly format for the presentation of the information.

A number of measures are being considered by states to enhance the use and effectiveness of PDMPs, with measures ranging from increased focus on improving the timeliness and reliability of the data, to mandated use by health care providers. To realize the full potential of PDMPs in addressing abuse and diversion, we need to better understand the perspective of physicians and other health care providers who are the end users of these data bases. Tomorrow’s event is an opportunity to do so.

Learn more about the forum here.


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Anne McDonald Pritchett, PhD

Anne McDonald Pritchett, PhD Anne McDonald Pritchett, Ph.D., is Senior Vice President, Policy and Research, at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Her primary focus is overseeing the development of legislative and policy analysis and research studies on a range of issues impacting innovative biopharmaceutical companies including intellectual property issues, FDA policy issues, and other issue areas impacting the environment for innovation. In addition to her public policy work, she and her team lead the development of a range of educational and other materials focused on explaining the R&D process, the value of innovation, and the role and contributions of the innovative biopharmaceutical industry.

Topics: Patients, Prescription Drug Safety

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