Objective. Prescription drug abuse and undertreatment of pain are public health priorities in the United States. Few options to manage these problems are balanced, in simultaneously supporting pain relief and deterring prescription drug abuse. Prescription monitoring programs (PMPs) potentially offer a balanced approach; however, the medical/scientific communities are not well informed about their current status and potential risks/benefits. The purpose of this study was to provide a benchmark of the current status of PMPs for healthcare providers upon which to engage PMP administrators.
Design. A Web survey of current PMP directors with a telephone follow-up conducted in June–July 2006 regarding goals, data captured, data sharing procedures, healthcare provider training, and evaluation efforts.
Results. Eighteen of 23 states with operating PMPs at that time participated. Eleven programs allowed physician access to PMP data. Data were delivered by mail (N = 6), fax (N = 8), e-mail (N = 1), and Websites (N = 8). Eight programs provided data to providers within 1 hour. Three states have developed provider PMP usage guidelines. Eight states developed or are developing educational programs. Two states completed or are conducting evaluations of the public health impact of PMP implementation. Five states have begun utilizing PMP data as an epidemiological tool.
Conclusions. Initial public safety orientation of PMPs is evolving to include improving public health and patient care. Beginning with efforts to engage healthcare providers through data sharing and education, and progressively including program evaluation on public health and patient care, our results suggest a rapid movement in the direction of utilization of PMPs to improve health care.