The Opioid Crisis

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<!–– The Opioid Crisis ––>
I always attend the annual Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program National Meeting, held in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. I have a particular interest in this meeting, where the administrators of the state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) attend, since I serve as the executive director of the American Society for Automation in Pharmacy (ASAP), the organization that developed the standard required by every state for pharmacies to use in reporting controlled substances dispensed.

These PDMPs are becoming very important in addressing the opioid crisis we have in this country. When PDMPs were created, there was little use of the data that resided in their repositories. This has since changed. First, virtually every state requires prescribers and pharmacists to register with their PDMP. Second, many states now require prescribers to check the PDMP before writing an opioid prescription, under certain conditions. And several states require the same of pharmacists before dispensing an opioid. On top of this, the trend is to limit the days’ supply in order to avoid dependency. States have also shortened the window for reporting, with many now requiring that pharmacies report within 24 hours of dispensing in order to make the data more timely when a prescriber or pharmacist queries the PDMP data. All of this is having a positive effect on the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed in this country.

I mentioned that ASAP developed the standard used throughout the country for reporting to the PDMPs. Last year it released version 4.2A, with input from not only a number of PDMPs but national drug chains, pharmacy system vendors, and other stakeholders as well.

The PDMPs are interested in making the data collected more useful. In the most recent version of the ASAP standard, new data fields were added to address this. For example, a field for treatment type was added to indicate whether or not the prescription is used to treat opioid dependency or for another reason. A field was added for the quantity prescribed in order to clarify a partial fill that is reported. Then there is a field that was added to report the diagnosis code (ICD-10 code) in order to better understand the reason for the prescription when the quantity dispensed is for 30 days or more.

The collective benefit is to better determine who is abusing and/or potentially diverting these prescriptions. What’s being reported to PDMPs, plus the quantity limits and checking the PDMP data before prescribing and dispensing, are all beginning to put the brakes on abuse and diversion. That was my takeaway from this year’s meeting, and I close by saying that there is no question that pharmacy is doing its share to address this crisis. CT

Bill Lockwood
Chairman | Publisher
Bill can be reached at wal@computertalk.com

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