Thursday, September 6, 2012

Real Data: Prescription Drug Monitoring Works

A new retrospective study out of Canada helps paint a picture of the impact a real-time prescription drug monitoring program can have. 

Back in 1995, British Columbia was the first Canadian province to introduce a real-time prescription drug monitoring system (called PharmaNet).  This week, analysis of data gathered since the program's introduction was published in the journal of the Canadian Medical Association. 

The study finds that duplicate or inappropriate opioid prescriptions fell from 3.2 percent to 2.1 percent of total prescriptions after the system was put in place.  And inappropriate prescriptions for benzodiazdepines fell from 1.2 percent to 0.71 percent.

Contrast this with the following:

- While 49 states in the US have adopted legislation to authorize the creation of a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, only 37 are up and running.  Of note: Missouri is the lone hold out.  See my post from June on the sorry state of affairs in that state.

- Funding in many of the 37 states is lacking.  California apparently has a single person responsible for administering the entire state program.

- We have yet to find a way to coordinate data sharing (or even data access) across state lines, severely inhibiting our ability, as a nation and as a collection of state work comp systems, to properly manage and leverage prescribing information. 

We have a long way to go on prescription monitoring.  But we have data that suggests it works.  Colin Dorumut, the epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia that led the research, put it best: "The cost of implementing these networks in terms of hardware and resources to build them is probably trivial compared to the millions of inappropriate prescriptions that can be prevented."

On Twitter @PRIUM1

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