Pennsylvania physicians who are licensed, registered, or otherwise lawfully authorized to prescribe controlled substances, other drugs or devices in the course of professional practice or research in this Commonwealth are required to register in the state's new prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). The Department of Health's (DOH) PDMP webpage contains more information, including a link to register.
According to the law, once registered, prescribers shall query the system for each patient the first time the patient is prescribed a controlled substance by the prescriber for purposes of establishing a baseline and a thorough medical record.
A prescriber shall also query the system if he or she believes or has reason to believe, using sound clinical judgment, that a patient may be abusing or diverting drugs.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, prescribers will also be required to query the system each time a patient is prescribed an opioid drug product or benzodiazepine by the prescriber.
A Fall 2016 amendment to the PDMP
law now requires DOH to ensure that prescribers are registered with the
PDMP system. Specifically, starting Jan. 1, 2017, DOH will be required to
“develop policies and procedures to require and ensure registration of all
prescribers and dispensers with the program."
If you have not already done so, please register as soon possible so that you are prepared to query the system. A tutorial to walk you through the registration process can be found here.
See a list of frequently asked questions by PAMED members.
See information on four new laws that updated requirements to the PDMP in November 2016.
Below is additional information on the state's new PDMP program, provided by DOH:
Querying the PDMP System – Requirements for Prescribers
A prescriber shall query the system:
- For each patient the first time the patient is prescribed a controlled substance by the prescriber for purposes of establishing a baseline and a thorough medical record; or
- If a prescriber believes or has reason to believe, using sound clinical judgment, that a patient may be abusing or diverting drugs.
- Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, each time a patient is prescribed an opioid drug product or benzodiazepine by the prescriber.
Querying the PDMP System - Additional Access for Prescribers
A prescriber may query the system for:
- An existing patient; and
- Prescriptions written using the prescriber's own Drug Enforcement Administration number.
Assigning Designees - Prescribers
Prescribers may designate employees as designees for purposes of accessing the system according to standards established by the ABC-MAP Board. In assigning a designee, a prescriber shall give preference to a professional nurse licensed by the State Board of Nursing.
Exceptions to the Querying Requirement – Prescribers
Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, if a patient has been admitted to a licensed health care facility or is in observation status in a licensed health care facility, the prescriber does not need to query the system after the initial query required under the law as long as the patient remains admitted to the licensed health care facility or remains in observation status in a licensed health care facility.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, health care practitioners who are providing medication to a patient in the course of treatment while the patient is undergoing care in an emergency department are not required to query the system.
Submitting Information to the PDMP System - Requirements for Dispensers
Pharmacies (including mail order and Internet pharmacies), in addition to health care practitioners who dispense scheduled II – V controlled substances that are not exempt as detailed below, will be required to electronically report prescription dispensing information to the PDMP.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, when a controlled substance is dispensed, the information must be reported to the system no later than the close of the subsequent business day after dispensing a controlled substance. Previous to this, dispensers had up to 72 hours to report into the system. This dispenser reporting requirement went into effect on June 24, 2016.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, dispensers will be required to query the system before dispensing an opioid or a benzodiazepine prescribed to a patient if any of the following apply:
- The patient is a new patient of the dispenser. A new patient does not include an individual going to the same pharmacy, or a different physical location of that pharmacy, if the patient's record is available to the dispenser.
- The patient pays cash when they have insurance.
- The patient requests a refill early.
- The patient is getting opioid drug products or benzodiazepines from more than one prescriber.
Exemptions — A health care practitioner is not considered a dispenser, and thus will not be required to report to the PDMP system, when he/she/it is a/an:
- Licensed health care facility that distributes the controlled substance for the purpose of administration in the licensed health care facility.
- Correctional facility or its contractors if the confined person cannot lawfully visit a prescriber outside the correctional facility without being escorted by a corrections officer.
- Authorized person who administers a controlled substance, other drug, or device.
- Wholesale distributor of a controlled substance.
- Licensed provider in the Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE) program (LIFE is a managed care program that provides medical and supportive service to eligible older individuals so they can continue to live independently).
- Provider of hospice as defined in the act of July 19, 1979 (P.L.130, No.48), known as the Health Care Facilities Act.
- Prescriber at a licensed health care facility if the quantity of controlled substances dispensed is limited to an amount adequate to treat the patient for a maximum of five days and does not allow for a refill.
Even if practitioners fall under one of the dispensing exemptions listed above, the exemption does not relieve them from having to query the PDMP system as explained above.
Information to be Submitted by Dispensers
A dispenser or pharmacy shall electronically submit information to the system regarding each controlled substance dispensed:
- The full name of the prescriber.
- The prescriber's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration number.
- The date the prescription was written.
- The date the prescription was dispensed.
- The full name, date of birth, gender and address of the person for whom the prescription was written and dispensed.
- The National Drug Code (NDC).
- Quantity and Days' supply.
- The DEA registration number and National Provider Identifier of the dispenser or pharmacy.
- The method of payment for the prescription.
Assigning Designees - Dispensers
Dispensers may designate other pharmacy employees for the purpose of accessing the system based on standards established by the ABC-MAP Board.
Querying the PDMP System - Dispensers
A dispenser or pharmacy may query the system for a current patient to whom the dispenser is dispensing or considering dispensing any controlled substance.
Confidentiality of PDMP System Information
The information being collected is safeguarded in both its collection and distribution. By state law, the data is confidential and not subject to disclosure under the act of Feb. 14, 2008 (P.L.6, No.3), known as the Right-to-Know Law. Access is restricted to approved, authorized users identified in the act of Oct. 27, 2014 (P.L. 2911, No. 191, known as the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Act).
Why Registering for System Access Will Be Important to Your Daily Practice of Medicine
- When access is granted, you can log on and view controlled substance prescription history of your patient. If you see a pattern of excessive use of controlled substances, you can use more caution in prescribing or dispensing to the patient.
- The database allows prescribers to detect pharmacy errors or fraudulent use of their DEA numbers. With access to the PA PDMP, a prescriber can query to find out which prescriptions for controlled substances were attributed to their DEA number.
- When preparing for new patients, big or small practice physicians with access can query or allow their delegates to query for prescription information on a new patient they will be seeing at a future appointment. This allows you to check on a patients' Schedule II - V controlled substance drug history and look for any red flags before prescribing a controlled substance to the new patient.
- The PDMP provides an important tool to health care professionals. It is intended to serve as a means to promote and improve patient well-being through better coordination of care, and to reduce the risk of addiction, diversion and overdose. It is not intended to interfere with the legitimate medical use of controlled substances.
Prescriber Resources and Education