A new survey conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that although primary care physicians report relatively high awareness of state databases that track drug prescriptions, only 53% have actually used them, and more than one-fifth indicated they were not aware of their state’s program at all. The survey is believed to be the first national assessment of physicians’ awareness and use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), introduced as an important intervention against prescription drug misuse, abuse, and diversion. The findings are published in the March issue of the journal Health Affairs.
PDMPs allow prescribing physicians to identify “doctor shoppers”—people who obtain prescriptions from multiple physicians, either to use or to sell or both—and other potentially illicit or abusive behaviors. The programs are relatively new, with the earliest introduced in the past decade and newer ones in various stages of rollout. In the past 3 years, 12 states introduced PDMPs. They are now in place in 49 states, all but Missouri. The authors note that physicians might use the programs more frequently if states addressed barriers to use. For instance, some states only give physicians access to the systems, which puts the burden of use on the doctor. Other states allow physicians to appoint a proxy, so someone else can do the work. Another problem is that in some state databases, the data are not clearly presented, making them difficult to access and interpret.
Read more about the survey findings here.
The journal abstract may be read here.