More States Mandate Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs


A look at PDMPs in PA-what they are doing and how they are helping patients.

As the opioid epidemic intensifies, state-based Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are stepping in to help address the issue. At the same time, states are asking providers (and in many cases requiring them) to review PDMPs when they are considering prescribing controlled substances to patients.

Pennsylvania recently joined the growing number of states that mandate provider usage of PDMPs. Its 2014 law, “Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program ACT,” provided for the PA PDMP, and legislation went into effect June 30, 2015. Pharmacies began reporting all controlled substances June 24, 2016, and providers

Dean T Perrywere required to begin using the PDMP database August 25, 2016.

At CBI’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs conference in Baltimore on February 7, presenter Dean T. Parry, RPh, Associate Vice President, Clinical Informatics, Care Support services, at Geisinger Health System, shared how the 12-hospital integrated system in Pennsylvania and New Jersey is helping providers meet the new requirements.

Related article: Why is Missouri the Last Drug Monitoring Holdout?

Goals of the PA PDMP program include:      

  • Collect data on all controlled substances dispensed in the state  

  • Require all providers to access the database before dispensing a new controlled substance prescription, (as of January 2017, requiring them to access it regardless of whether the prescription is new or a referral)    

  • Allow providers to view a complete record of their controlled substance prescriptions that have been filled    

  • Allow patients to view their own controlled substance record for prescriptions that have been filled

To comply with the PDMP requirements, Geisinger providers now must:    

  • Review PDMP data before issuing a controlled substance prescription    

  • Review the PDMP if they suspect diversion or abuse  

  • Document in the EHR if the database information alters their decision to issue a controlled substance

  • Document in the EHR that they reviewed the database

Actions taken by Geisinger to prepare providers for the program, according to Parry, included:    

  • Educating providers about the program and the need to enroll  

  • Educating pharmacists as a “key source of support” for providers


Despite the challenges associated with the PDMP, Parry has received some positive feedback from providers. For example, through PDMP reviews, many have identified patients with previously unknown abuse or misuse problems. 

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