May 15, 2018

Tackling Prescription Drug Misuse

Prescription drug monitoring programs are part of a comprehensive strategy to address the opioid crisis.

Finding ways to reduce prescription drug misuse is a critical step toward solving the country’s opioid crisis. One promising practice is the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs)—electronic databases that track how opioids are prescribed and sold.

Currently, every U.S. state operates its own PDMP. EDC’s Sarah Ivan has studied how states are using these programs to address prescription drug misuse. In this podcast, she describes how PDMPs are an important component in a comprehensive prevention approach and discusses why PDMPs have so much potential to turn the tide against opioids.

Interview highlights

On the scope of the opioid crisis

Ivan: “Since 2000, there’s been a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids. In 2014, 29,000 drug overdose deaths involved some type of opioid. And while heroin is a component of this, and is involved in 37 percent of those deaths, other opioids—including many of the commonly prescribed pain relievers—are involved in all the remaining deaths.”

On how PDMPs can make a difference

Ivan: “[PMDP] data is a huge component in developing a county-level ‘heat map,’ which is considered an important way to identify doctor shopping. . . . We can identify people who might be doing that and target prevention efforts to reduce overdose deaths.”

“Since 2000, there’s been a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids.”
—Sarah Ivan, EDC
On the relationship between patients and prescribers

Ivan: “Patients and doctors both want to do the right thing—[patients] want relief from pain when they are seeking opioids, and doctors want their patients to be safe. But at the same time, balancing that and being able to communicate back with their patients to maintain safety can be really difficult.”