What’s on the Horizon for Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program?

Last Updated: Nov 29, 2018

virtual-computer-ipad-dataMore than two years have passed since Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) opened for querying on Aug. 25, 2016. The PDMP has come a long way in the interim, with the addition of features like data sharing between states and efforts to integrate the PDMP with electronic health records (EHRs).

It’s time to look at the impact of the state’s PDMP to date and what lies ahead. How have prescribing patterns changed since the launch of the PDMP? And, what improvements are underway?

The Latest PDMP Data
There have been significant changes in prescribing and dispensing of opioids and benzodiazepines in the period from the third quarter of 2016 through the second quarter of 2018:

  • Prescriptions by patient location for all schedules of opioids, excluding buprenorphine, have decreased by 20.57 percent.
  • Prescriptions of buprenorphine, a drug used for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) of opioid use disorder, have increased by 13.91 percent.
  • Statewide, there was a drop of 25.61 percent in the number of individuals who were prescribed an average daily MME greater than 90 MME per day.

New Patient Advocate Program
The PDMP Office plans to launch a Pennsylvania Patient Advocate Program which would coordinate health care resources for patients who have lost access to their physician or other clinician due to factors such as retirement, relocation, or irresponsible prescribing practices. The PDMP Office will seek input from other state agencies, as well as secure funding, prior to implementation of the program.

Clinical Alerts for PDMP Users
The PDMP now displays clinical alerts for these scenarios:

  • Any active overlapping opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions
  • Dosages that are greater than or equal to 90 MME/day
  • Patients seeing multiple providers for controlled substances from three or more prescribers and three or more pharmacists in a three-month period.

EHR and Pharmacy System Integration with the PDMP
The EHR integration process is ongoing. As of Oct. 23, 2018, the state has received more than 500 applications for EHR integration. A total of 143 applications have been completed, and 114 more are in process. Groups that have completed the integration process include private practices, health systems, independent hospitals, and pharmacies.

More information and an EHR integration application form are available on the state’s PDMP Integration webpage.

Additional Resources

You can access the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s PDMP webpage here. The PDMP webpage includes PDMP interactive data reports. The state is working on collecting and making additional data – including overdose death data – available online in the future.

PAMED also offers PDMP resources for physicians at www.pamedsoc.org/PDMP. For more information on our education to help physicians navigate the growing opioid abuse crisis as well as our advocacy to ensure that opioid-related legislation takes a common sense, patient-centered approach, visit www.pamedsoc.org/OpioidResources.

PAMED participates in PDMP quarterly meetings during which stakeholders discuss updates and future initiatives. We’ll continue to share news and updates on the PDMP as they become available.


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  1. Steve Karp | Nov 30, 2018
    Where is the study on whether more patients have inadequate pain control due to the restrictions and hurdles placed on physician prescribing? We all know it's occurring but also known is you won't begin to address a problem until you admit you have one. Another question: If physicians are prescribing 20-25% fewer pain medications why are overdoses at an all time high? Could it be that it's not due to the drugs we prescribe? Do any of us prescribe heroin? Time for the attorneys to pipe in with the weasel words.

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