Drug Monitoring Programs Leading to Drop In Opioid Prescriptions?

Nearly 75% of physicians believe that state prescription drug monitoring programs have led to a reduction in the prescribing of opioids, according to results of a survey published in the journal Medical Affairs.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health surveyed 420 practicing primary care physicians in the nationally-representative mail survey to assess physician awareness and use of, as well as attitudes towards, prescription monitoring programs.

With the exception of Missouri, all states have a prescription drug-monitoring program in place. Seventy-two percent reported knowledge of their state’s prescription drug monitoring program, 6% did not, and 22% were unsure if their state had such as program.

Although some physicians had no knowledge of monitoring programs, they are new in many states and physicians may not have been notified of the rollout. Fifty-three percent stated that they had used their state’s program; sixty-nine percent of these physicians found it to be “very” and “somewhat” easy to access information on patients.

Of the physicians who were aware of their states’ program, 57% agreed that the program had “greatly” or “somewhat” reduced abuse and diversion of prescription drugs and 28% reported “a little” change in these practices. Of physicians who had used data from a state prescription drug monitoring program, 74% believed that it had contributed to less frequent prescribing of opioids.

State-level strategies to increase awareness of prescription drug monitoring programs are needed, including greater physician education, outreach, and legal mandates, the authors conclude.