Commentary: Enabling Interstate Sharing of Prescription Data to Help Prevent Abuse
Addressing the national prescription drug abuse epidemic, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) PMP InterConnectSM enhances the ability of prescription monitoring programs (PMPs) to prevent the diversion of controlled substance drugs by facilitating the transfer of PMP data across state lines to authorized PMP users in participating states.
With an estimated seven million Americans abusing prescription drugs, and 1.2 million emergency department visits related to misuse or abuse of prescription drugs in 2009 alone, the implementation of state PMPs, by targeting doctor shopping and pill mills, is one of many strategies to help fight this public health threat.
Doctor shopping, moving from doctor to doctor in an effort to obtain multiple prescriptions for a drug, is one means to obtain drugs used by those misusing prescription drugs or suffering from pill addiction. Illegally operating pain clinics, commonly known as “pill mills,” exacerbate this situation by issuing invalid prescriptions that are often filled on site, or by referring customers to a pharmacy operating in cooperation with the clinic. Further, many doctor shoppers will travel hundreds of miles, often across state lines, in attempts to obtain prescription drugs.
Many states have implemented a PMP, a secure database maintained by a state agency that stores information on prescriptions for controlled substance medications or drugs of concern.
Depending upon state laws, certain authorized users, such as doctors and pharmacists, may view PMP data so that they have complete information on a patient’s controlled substance medication history. Thus, PMPs can help prescribers make better informed treatment decisions and help pharmacists make appropriate dispensing decisions. PMPs can also assist both prescribers and pharmacists in identifying patients who may be doctor shopping and in need of treatment for addiction.
In response to a need expressed by state PMP administrators and regulators, the NABP InterConnect was developed and now provides a way for state PMPs to share data. Authorized PMP users can potentially access complete controlled substance patient data from all states where the patient has had these prescriptions filled. For example, if a patient in Ohio travels to Indiana and needs to have a prescription for a controlled substance medication filled, the pharmacist in Indiana can see records from both states by using the NABP InterConnect. The information reported back from both states can help that pharmacist make decisions about dispensing that are in the best interest of the patient’s health and safety. The NABP InterConnect is a highly secure communications exchange platform that conforms to all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations.
NABP InterConnect enhances the ability of state PMPs to prevent the illegal obtainment of controlled substance prescription drugs via doctor shopping, and to alert health care providers to patients in need of addiction treatment.
PMPs in five states have deployed NABP InterConnect and 10 additional states have signed memorandums of understanding to participate. Additional information about NABP InterConnect and state PMP participation is available in the Programs section of the NABP website.
Carmen A. Catizone, MS, RPh, DPh
Executive Director/Secretary, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy