New Data Links PDMP Usage to Pennsylvania’s Drop in Opioid Prescriptions

Last Updated: Jun 6, 2019

(June 6, 2019) Data released Thursday shows Pennsylvania’s physicians continue to write fewer opioid prescriptions while increasing their usage of the state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP).
In its 2019 Opioid Progress Report, the American Medical Association (AMA) showed state-by-state figures for prescriptions written, the number of providers who have registered for their state’s PDMP, and the number of times they’ve queried the PDMP.
Pennsylvania passed a law that strengthened its PDMP in late 2016 and requires physicians to register. The purpose was to give physicians and other medical prescribers a tool to ensure their patients weren’t seeking opioids elsewhere and digging deeper into addiction.
Usage of the PDMP spiked from 2.3 million queries in 2016 to 12.7 million queries in 2017. It rose to more than 17 million in 2018.
“Pennsylvania’s PDMP has basically stopped doctor shopping and allowed physicians to more easily identify patients who may have substance use disorder,” said John Gallagher, MD, chair of the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s opioid task force. 
AMA data showed that Pennsylvania physicians have written fewer opioid prescriptions for five straight years and have seen the fifth largest percentage drop nationally between 2013-18 (43 percent).
In addition to the PDMP, Dr. Gallagher credits physician education for the decrease.
An AMA survey of the nation’s state and county medical societies showed that physicians completed continuing medical education courses and reviewed education and training resources more than 700,000 times in 2018 — an increase of 150,000 from 2017.
More than 16,000 physicians took 65,000 opioid and pain management CME courses from the Pennsylvania Medical Society in 2017-18.
“This data shows that steps taken by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Wolf Administration are helping the medical community make progress in fighting this crisis,” Dr. Gallagher said. “The Pennsylvania Medical Society is supportive of these measures and continues to support commonsense solutions that allow physicians to use their medical training to do what is right for their patients.
“The desperately needed next step is a concerted effort to expand access to high-quality care for substance use disorders.”
States with the largest drop in opioid prescriptions (2013-18)
  1. West Virgina (51.0 percent)
  2. Rhode Island (49.4 percent)
  3. Massachusetts (44.3 percent)
  4. Ohio (44.2 percent)
  5. Pennsylvania (43.0 percent)
Souce: AMA 2019 Opioid Progress Report
PAMED Media Contact:
Jeff Wirick

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