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

7 Responses to Commentary: Enabling Interstate Sharing of Prescription Data to Help Prevent Abuse

  1. Marcia | February 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    More stupidity. This may very well reduce the Doctor Shopping and misuse of prescripion drugs. But as it does, it will certainly increase the use of Heroin and street speed drugs. Awesome. Keep going with this rediculous “war on drugs” till everyone is dead or in prison, and you’re all rich from the exploitation of what you not only helped create, but continue to partake in. This whole “control” tactic is not working. Time to start educating yourselves on how it would work to legalize and regulate as we did with alcohol prohibition or are you all enjoying your job security a bit too much?

    • Phillip Good | February 26, 2012 at 3:13 am

      That is ridiculous to legalize it. Why don’t you say these humans are not valuable or worth spending the money on them. Do we want to end up like Holland?
      Maybe we should just execute people, until we can stop this problem.

  2. Kelly Miller | February 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I think this is a great idea but I had a few thoughts. I know you mentioned other efforts as well, but we don’t need to forget that even if we take prescription drugs off the market, addicts and alcoholics will find something else to use. It is just like I have seen locally as the police cracked down on Crystal Meth, everyone started using opiates. Once Oxycontin was restricted, people moved to Heroin. So while I agree we need to keep a better monitor over prescription medication and managed care, I hope we will still put money and effort into treatment for addiction because the problem, as you all know, is not the substance alone but the disease.

  3. Doc Barry | February 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Well said, to the previous writer. I would like to just ask what the prudent man would say when he realizes that since “The War on Drugs” began, a few simple observations. First of all, I believe that the war started when the Freedom that this country was started for was allowed to erode.
    I really don’t know how much money the likes of Al Capone,, made from Prohibition of Alcohol. What came from that? Several people became very wealthy and powerful. Innocent people would be murdered. What about this prohibition? Who benefits from making drugs (certain ones)illegal? Who suffers? Once upon a time, numbers writers, book making, loan sharking were all illegal. Today, the state “writes” numbers. What will “Bookmakers” in Las Vegas or other places today be considered? Last but surely not least, how much is interest legal to charge? So what is my point? If all drugs were legal and taxed, and treated as a disease, rather than a crime, the rate of use will not change, however, the Crime issue will shrink. Then comes the real work, or the real question; who decides or has the right to decide, what you choose to put in your body? Thank you for thinking about this.

  4. Phillip Good | February 26, 2012 at 3:09 am

    I lost my 22 yr old son to addiction to his ADD medicine Ritalin or Methylphenidate. After 8 yrs on this drug he began abusing the drug to study longer and for work. He told me I would not be able to keep from getting the drugs and he was right. I did not know he was doctor shopping, going to multiple pharmacies and paying full amount so it would not show up on the insurance statement. He even went so far as to go to an emergency room and told hem someone stole his Ritalin and he needed 11 pills, and they gave them to him.

  5. Robert | March 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I find it disappointing that detractors always argue against initiatives from a ‘political’ viewpoint instead of a practical one. In almost every state in the country prescription drug deaths are exceeding traffic deaths. This occurs because of many factors, not the least of which includes the lack of knowledge about the potential dangers of prescription drugs by both patients and doctors. Outside the law enforcement aspect of prescription data sharing, this is primarily a diagnostic tool for doctors and pharmacists to provide better medical care for their patients. If some patients move to heroin or other drugs, it will be because it is cheaper, not because prescription drugs are regulated. This is not a “War on Drugs” but a responsible medical tool for the benefit of everyone who uses them.

  6. Marcia Kirschbaum | March 6, 2012 at 3:51 am

    Phillip, I’m so very sorry about your son. There’s a group on Facebook called GRASP for parents who have lost their children to drug overdose, that you might want to join. Unfortunately, you’ll have lots of understanding there, as they are pretty much, all in your shoes.

    I’m sorry my comment about legalizing drugs upset you, but it is accurate and I know from first hand experience with my own son and so many others. Drug addicts will get drugs and though Doctor’s certainly should not be handing out scripts to addicts, what is proposed in this article will turn addicts to street drugs. They get there fast enough as it is.

    Legalizing drugs will give addicts a safe place and way to get their drugs, rather than being forced to buy from street dealers, as was the case with my son. He started with an addiction to Norco after a shoulder surgery and in an attempt to get him to stop, I canceled his health insurance, because he was getting the drugs from a doctor. After there was no insurance he had 4 different doctors that would sell him a script for 30 – 80 mg Oxy’s for $100, then he would go collect money from all his friends and get enough to fill a prescription for about $900. Essentially I turned him into a drug dealer, by not understanding how the drug works and thinking he could quit if he wanted to. Eventually the Oxy turned into Heroin.

    The tax from legalizing drugs would be used for massive education and harm reduction. Look how well it worked regarding cigarettes, when advertising was banned and replaced with education. Smoking dropped by half in ten years. Portugal just celebrated their tenth year of legalizing drugs, with that same result.,8599,1893946,00.html Your son wasn’t a criminal for getting addicted to drugs and neither was mine, but under the current law, that’s how they’re treated and it’s just another money making scam. The Pharmaceutical and Mass Incarceration Industries are big money, at the expense of countless lives.

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