PDMPs: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

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It’s rare to watch the news and not hear concern about the nationwide opioid epidemic. From politicians promising to eradicate the problem to grieving loved ones sharing their personal stories of addiction and loss, there is a constant spotlight on the issue. That focus, in conjunction with an ever-expanding list of drugs of concern, has led states to implement extensive prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs).

PDMPs attempt to ensure the safe and lawful prescribing of pharmaceuticals.1 PDMPs have proven to reduce adverse drug events, such as overdoses, drug diversion and substance abuse, by distributing prescription and dispensing information to the appropriate individuals.2

In almost every state, prescription drug monitoring is a daily function in most pharmacies. From paper-based reporting to the first electronic PDMPs in the 1990s, these programs continue to evolve. It appears the next trend may be for states to report all prescriptions through their state programs. In 2017, Kentucky began reporting all prescriptions to its PDMP, and in 2018, Nebraska will do the same. It will be interesting to see if other states follow suit.

A recent study conducted by the Society for the Study of Addiction found that “US states that have more robust prescription drug monitoring programs have fewer prescription opioid overdose deaths than states with weaker PMPs.”3 These programs are not going away; in fact, they seem to be growing – in size and complexity. Last year, Virginia and Massachusetts added the drug Gabapentin to their lists of drugs to report, and Arizona expanded its PDMP to include Schedule V drugs.4

The examples above are just a few ways PDMPs are constantly changing, and keeping track of them can be like hitting a moving target. However, pharmacists must stay on top of these regulations and monitor their state’s PDMP because failure to do so could have disastrous consequences. An article in Medscape Medical News warns that pharmacists could be held criminally responsible for patient overdose deaths. In the article, an associate professor at Marshall University School of Pharmacy in West Virginia referred to the doctrine of corresponding responsibility established by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1971 that states, “the responsibility for the proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances falls upon the prescribing practitioner, and a corresponding responsibility rests with the pharmacist who fills the prescription.”5

Today’s pharmacists have to do so much more than dispense prescriptions. You must monitor PDMPs and look for potential red flags in patients. However, in the ever-changing healthcare marketplace, you can count on QS/1 to have your back. We constantly monitor federal and state regulations that may affect your business and remain focused on solutions to keep you compliant, proficient and profitable.

Our PMP service extracts controlled-substance prescription information from our PowerLine™ claims or the pharmacy’s Rx Monitoring Log and submits it to the appropriate state agency within the required timeframe to ensure compliance with state laws. This eliminates the need for your staff to manually report to your state’s agency. QS/1 will continue to monitor the industry and keep you informed of changes to PDMPs across the country.

For more information about our PMP service, email pharmacyservices@qs1.com or call 800.845.7558, ext. 1471.


1 What Physicians and Patients need to know about Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. Physician Partners of America. Dec. 22, 2016. Web. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017. www.physicianpartnersofamerica.com/health-news/pain-management/what-physicians-and-patients-need-to-know-about-prescription-drug-monitoring-programs/1

2 Questions & Answers – State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. DEA Diversion Control Division. www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/faq/rx_monitor.htm#1. Accessed 18 Oct. 2017.

3 Pardo, Bryce. “Do More Robust Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Reduce Prescription Opioid Overdose?” Medscape, Medscape, 8 Feb. 2017, www.medscape.com/medline/abstract/28009931. Accessed 13 Oct. 2017.

4 QS/1 | News Category: Legal & Regulatory. QS/1 Pharmacy Management Software, QS/1, www.qs1.com/index.php/news/category/C53/53. Accessed 18 Oct. 2017.

5 Ault, Alicia. Pharmacists May Be Legally Liable for Opioid Overdoses. Medscape. 30 June 2017. www.medscape.com/viewarticle/882358. Accessed 18 Oct. 2017.

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