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Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are electronic databases that keep track of the prescribing and dispensing of controlled prescription drugs. PDMPs are maintained at the state level and are used to identify sources of prescription drug diversion such as forgery, visiting numerous primary care providers to obtain prescriptions, and improper prescribing or dispensing practices. Most PDMPs are administered by the state's Board of Pharmacy.

Each state creates regulations that specify what drugs are monitored and who has access to the information. Typically, law enforcement representatives, healthcare professionals, state Medicaid programs, medical examiners or coroners, and some research organizations have access to the information, with most states allowing practitioners and pharmacists to obtain PDMP data about their patients. Evidence shows that allowing prescribers and pharmacists to see a patient's prescription history through a PDMP helps prevent overprescribing of opioids to individuals at risk for opioid use disorder.

The PDMP Training and Technical Assistance Center provides key resources to agencies and providers who are working with PDMP data. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration developed a resource for using PDMP data to support prevention planning. For example, in addition to preventing overprescribing of opioids, PDMP data can inform surveillance efforts for emerging trends in prescription drugs.

Considerations for Implementation

While PDMPs may play a crucial role in the prevention of overdose morbidity and mortality, these databases are maintained at a state level and local-level agencies may have little input into their design or accessibility. PDMP data are often not accessible in real-time and are not always easy to use. In locations where a state closely borders another state, patients may be able to circumvent identification in a PDMP by filling prescriptions in a neighboring state where prescribers would not have access to interstate-level information. States have increased data-sharing among PDMPs through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's InterConnect® program. As of 2020, 45 states are using InterConnect to securely transfer data about prescriptions.

Resources to Learn More

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC)
Provides PDMP reports, recommendations, and trainings. Includes a database of PDMP profiles for each state, with information on which drugs are monitored, data collection frequency, legislation updates, and other relevant information.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)
Provides detailed information for states about PDMP practices and policies. Includes examples of successful implementation in selected states.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention