Pennsylvania has made changes in recent years to its Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (“PDMP”) in response to an increase in abuse and dependence on prescribed medications.
The state recognizes that certain controlled substances have a high potential for abuse and drug trafficking. The PDMP maintains a record of all prescriptions for these substances to individuals.
In 2017, Pennsylvania amended the PDMP to require all prescribers licensed in the state for writing orders for controlled substances to register. Failure to comply with the PDMP requirements can lead to disciplinary action against a prescriber.
Checking the database
Under the PDMP, prescribers must run a search on any new patient before authorizing a listed medication to that person. The search will show the provider if the patient has any recent prescriptions for controlled drugs or other red flags.
For existing patients, a practitioner must check the PDMP if it is the first time they are prescribing a controlled substance to that patient and anytime they prescribe an opioid or benzodiazepine. In addition, the provider must search the database for an existing patient if they have a reasonable suspicion the individual is misappropriating the drugs or is abusing the substance. Practitioners do not have to search the PDMP if they order the drugs as part of the emergency care of a patient.
Opioids, benzodiazepines and other controlled substances are sometimes necessary for patients who need pain relief. Unfortunately, these medications are highly addictive. The state must monitor the use and prescription of these medications to reduce potential overdoses and other adverse outcomes.