Doctors increasingly use PDMPs, but opioid impact still rising

Despite the fact that physician use of prescription drug monitoring programs has dramatically increased, the use of these state-run databases isn’t curtailing the opioid crisis.

That’s the sobering reality according to Susan Bailey, MD, president-elect of the American Medical Association.

While opioid prescriptions decreased 33 percent between 2013 and 2018, including more than 12 percent between 2017 and 2018, this progress “has not led to an overall reduction in mortality or a measurable increase in positive patient outcomes,” Bailey said in bleak testimony on Wednesday to a House committee.

In fact, Bailey testified that “the nation’s epidemic of opioid-related overdoses and deaths continues to worsen.”

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Also See: Questions swirl on the utility of current PDMP role in opioid crisis

In her testimony, Bailey referenced the AMA’s recently released Opioid Task Force 2019 Progress Report, which found that physicians are leveraging PDMPs more than ever. PDMPs are designed to track prescriptions written for controlled substances by recording patient opioid prescribing histories to flag suspicious prescribing activities.

According to Bailey’s testimony, the use of PDMPs increased to more than 450 million queries in 2018, a 56 percent increase from 2017 and a 651 percent increase from 2014. In addition, she noted that almost 2 million physicians and other healthcare professionals are registered to use PDMPs, a 290 percent increase from 2014.

Nonetheless, Bailey quoted AMA President Patrice Harris, MD, chair of AMA’s Opioid Task Force, who said that “while physicians must continue to demonstrate leadership by taking action, it is clear that these significant reductions in opioid prescribing, increases in prescription drug monitoring program use and taking more education—by themselves—will not stop people from dying.”

When it comes to PDMPs, the AMA has urged states to take action to improve integration with electronic health record systems and daily workflow at the point of care, thereby eliminating the requirement for providers to log in to a separate system and manage a separate log in—which the physician group says disrupts doctors’ workflows to query the PDMP.

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