Regulators, healthcare providers and the public at large have taken note of the rise in prescription drug substance abuse. A recent article titled "Oxycodone Prescriptions Rose Sharply" in the New York Times (1/11/2012) describes trends of double-digit percentage increases in the dispensing of certain narcotic based painkillers. And many states have, or will be, implementing prescription drug monitoring programs — also known as prescription monitoring programs — that track the physicians prescribing and the patients receiving controlled substances. The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws reports on its website that, as of January 2012, there are prescription drug monitoring programs in 40 of the 50 states that are operational. At their heart, many of those programs operate in a similar manner, with the key elements being:
The programs are designed to provide the best balance for appropriate access to needed medications versus managing the potential for drug abuse. Additionally, they provide the ability to monitor trends in the use of controlled substances and to assist with educating the public and healthcare providers alike.
So where should prescription drug monitoring programs go from here?
Here are a few trends that the pharmacy industry should be advocating to help improve formal tracking systems:
We are all motivated by the same thing: to improve the monitoring and managing of the potential abuse of controlled substances. By actively looking to improve the data collection and the monitoring systems, we can achieve greater access and may be able to offer proactive insight into assisting prescription medications to be dispensed properly.
Emdeon VP Pharmacy Network Services
As VP pharmacy network services at Emdeon, Paul Hooper directs the company’s pharmacy network services initiatives with a focus on developing programs, standards and partnerships that increase pharmacy efficiency and reduce healthcare costs. Paul has spent more than 25 years in the healthcare industry with a predominant focus in pharmacy. During this time, he has held roles in product development, systems, finance and operations at various recognized industry leaders: BASF, Abbott Laboratories, Cardinal Health, ArcLight and Emdeon. He holds a master's degree in business administration from Ohio University and a bachelor of science in food science from Pennsylvania State University.
Emdeon Manager of Government Business Development, Pharmacy Services
As manager of government business development with Emdeon, Nathan Ludvigson directs policy and business development for pharmacy services related to electronic prescribing; health information exchange (HIE); medication therapy management (MTM); prescription monitoring programs (PMP); durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS); in addition to supporting Emdeon’s participation with the Massachusetts electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS-MA) research project. Ludvigson combines extensive pharmacy industry experience with legislative policy experience in both the U.S. Congress and Texas Senate. He earned his bachelor of science degree in political science from Texas Christian University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Houston.