Study: Certain Types of State PDMPs May Protect Against Opioid-Related Poisonings

Photo of Chris Delcher, Ph.D.Some states with prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in place to help combat the nation’s growing opioid crisis reported lower rates of prescription opioid-related poisonings from 2004-2014 than states without PDMPs, according to a recent report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

“Prescription opioid-related poisonings are on the rise in most states but PDMPs may help slow the pace,” said Chris Delcher, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of health outcomes & biomedical informatics at the University of Florida, who was part of the team that published the study. Other members of the team included lead author Nathan J. Pauly, a Ph.D. candidate and research analyst at the Institute for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy (IPOP) at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Pharmacy in Lexington; Patricia R. Freeman, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Practice (CAPP), clinical associate professor in the pharmacy practice and science department, and affiliated faculty member in IPOP at UK; Jeffrey Talbert, Ph.D., professor in the department of pharmacy practice and science in the UK College of Pharmacy, and Svetla Slavova, Ph.D., associate professor of biostatistics in the department of biostatistics at the UK College of Public Health.

The research team examined inpatient hospital admissions and emergency department visits categorized as prescription opioid-related poisonings from a nationally-representative population of privately insured adults from 2004 to 2014 to identify associations between specific PDMP features and changes in the relative risk of prescription opioid-related poisonings over time.

States without PDMPs reported an average annual increase of 9.1 percent in the rate of prescription opioid-related poisonings during the study period, while states with operational PDMPs reported an annual increase of 3.17 percent. States that enhanced their PDMPs with special features, such as requiring that all controlled substances be monitored instead of a select few, or requiring more frequent data reporting, experienced stronger protective effects over time.

The researchers point out that the results can be used to improve the efficacy of existing PDMPs and those that are being planned in the future. They also called for further studies to assess and refine the effectiveness of special features associated with PDMPs, and for the development of innovations to help health care providers quickly identify individuals in need of substance-use counseling.

“This latter point is particularly important as we are now in the midst of a co-occurring opioid crisis involving non-pharmaceutical opioids like heroin and fentanyl analogs,” Delcher said.