AIA Endorses Report on Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Best Practices

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A new report endorsed and co-signed by the American Insurance Association (AIA), and released in conjunction with the National RX Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, reveals key elements of a successful state prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) that are critical to stemming the tide of opioid abuse. Opioid consumption in the United States has quadrupled over the last 17 years.

A new report endorsed and co-signed by the American Insurance Association (AIA), and released in conjunction with the National RX Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, reveals key elements of a successful state prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) that are critical to stemming the tide of opioid abuse. Opioid consumption in the United States has quadrupled over the last 17 years. According to Shatterproof, a leading national organization in substance abuse, prevention, support and treatment, which authored the report, opioid over-usage has reached a crisis stage.

“AIA is pleased to be associated with this report,” said Bruce Wood, AIA vice president and associate general counsel. “Giving PDMPs the tools to do their job and requiring the active participation of the medical and pharmacy communities will help reverse the current course of this tragic epidemic, reducing enormous suffering and even the loss of life.”

The Shatterproof report reveals that opioids were collectively responsible for 29,467 deaths in 2014, including 18,893 from opioid pain relievers and 10,574 from heroin. Drug overdose death rates have increased more than five times since 1980. In 2014, more Americans died of drug overdoses than car accidents making drug overdoses the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

“In 2012, doctors wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioids – enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills for a month,” said Wood. “This crisis demands comprehensive approaches that will help people conquer their addictions and, in the meantime, help insurers and employers manage the issues associated with opioid addiction.”

Effective PDMPs are an essential tool in this battle. Currently, PDMPs exist in all but one state, Missouri. The programs employ statewide electronic databases that collect designated information from prescribers and dispensers on controlled substances dispensed within the states. When properly used, PDMPs identify and prevent drug misuse or diversion, identify the overuse of pharmaceutical drugs and offer treatment to patients in need of support. At the same time, they ensure the legitimate medical use of painkillers. The data collected can also be used to analyze prescribing patterns and trends in use and ultimately inform patient-centered public health initiatives.

“Evidence shows that mandating prescribers to consult the PDMP database before prescribing an opioid and for dispensers to do so before dispensing, has a profound effect on the number of inappropriate opioid prescriptions written and dispensed. Empowering the PDMP to proactively monitor prescribing data and flag suspicious prescribing patterns is also essential,” said Wood.

The Shatterproof study analyzes PDMP practices and policies to identify proven models that states can adopt. It identifies 12 guiding practices and recommends legislation to maximize the effectiveness of PDMPs. By heeding this guidance, state legislatures can take concrete action to save lives by systematically preventing overprescribing and dangerous co-prescribing of prescription painkillers.

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