December 31, 2016

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and Their Role in Combatting the Opioid Epidemic

Geoffrey Mospan, Wingate University School of Pharmacy, Wingate, NC


The abuse, misuse, and diversion of prescription drugs continues to increase in the United States to epidemic levels. In 2014, over 25,000 overdose deaths occurred from prescription drugs, an amount that has more than tripled from 1999 rates.1 Opioids, a class of medication used to treat pain, were implicated in nearly three out of every four overdoses due to prescription drugs in 2014.2 As a result of this public health emergency, many strategies have been implemented by states to decrease deaths from opioid and prescription medications.3 Examples of these strategies include prescription drug take back programs, limiting quantities of opioid prescriptions, prescribing naloxone for patients at risk of opioid overdose, and prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). This article will discuss PDMPs, including information on their functionality, benefits, limitations, and opportunities for improvement.

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