Publisher’s Window: January/February 2016
<!–– Giving Meaning to PDMP Data ––>

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) have been established to fight the abuse and diversion problem we have in this country with controlled substances. Initially, states’ monitoring programs operated as separate silos. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) changed all of this when it established the InterConnect program that would enable states to share data on a person of interest. InterConnect has since been well received by the state monitoring programs. The large majority of states have signed on to InterConnect for interstate sharing.

Appriss is NABP’s partner in managing the InterConnect program. Appriss serves as the gateway to the states participating in InterConnect. Helping the cause is that more and more states are requiring prescribers to register with their prescription monitoring programs and also to check their PDMP before writing prescriptions for Schedule II drugs, especially opioids. What InterConnect allows is for a prescriber not only to check the data from his or her own state, but from adjacent states as well. This is important, because doctor shoppers will move around from state to state to not only get prescriptions written but also to have them filled. States that previously limited access to the data by only physicians have opened up access to pharmacists as well. Pharmacists have a corresponding responsibility to check the PDMP data when they suspect someone of doctor shopping.

What we are seeing is a significant increase in the use of a previously underused asset in the fight against abuse and diversion. The PDMPs will report not only the prescriptions filled for a specific timeframe, but where they were filled and who prescribed the drugs.

NABP can also be credited with another milestone, and that is the development of NARxCHECK. NARxCHECK provides additional insight into the prescriptions dispensed to a person of interest. Appriss has since taken ownership of NARxCHECK.

A NARxCHECK report will tell a physician or pharmacist whether the person is a low-, moderate-, or high-risk drug abuser. It shows a risk score for three categories of drugs: narcotics, sedatives, and stimulants, using a three-digit score. The first two digits represent the composite percentile risk based on an overall analysis of prescription drug use. The third digit represents the number of active prescriptions. It provides a snapshot of the prescribers for various timeframes, i.e., less than two months, six months, and one year, and the pharmacies where the prescriptions were filled and the method of payment. It also provides the morphine equivalent milligrams per day for the narcotics dispensed. NARxCHECK, simply put, gives meaning to the data.

The most recent version of the Web service standard developed by the American Society for Automation in Pharmacy (ASAP), designed to allow access to PDMP data through a pharmacy management system or physician electronic record system, incorporates the reporting of NARxCHECK scores and the URL to access the report, in response to a query on a person of interest.

Bottom line is that NABP has to be commended for the initiative it has taken with InterConnect and then NARxCHECK. Both are going to go a long way in helping stem the tide of drug abuse and diversion. CT

Bill Lockwood, chairman/publisher, can be reached at