IBH partners with Pew Charitable Trusts to co-sponsor research forum on state prescription drug monitoring programs

June 08, 2015

by Bethany Romano

image of hand holding prescription medications

Last week, the Institute for Behavioral Health’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Center of Excellence co-sponsored a research forum at the offices of Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C. Over 60 researchers, administrators and federal agency representatives were in attendance for the day-and-a-half event. Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are state-level databases that doctors and pharmacists consult prior to prescribing or dispensing controlled substances, such as addictive painkillers. Now present in 49 states (all except Missouri), PDMPs have become increasingly important as electronic medical records become standard practice and the need to prevent prescription drug abuse grows more acute. 

Peter Kreiner, a senior scientist at the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy, was instrumental in organizing the research forum. “We’d noticed an increased interest at conferences by others who are studying PDMPs or using PDMP data, but it seemed fragmented,” he says. “There might only be a handful of other researchers at these conferences to talk to about PDMP data. We thought it would be a useful thing to hold a meeting focused solely on PDMP research and evaluation.”

PDMP data is used to evaluate the effectiveness of programs on patient outcomes, as well as the overall public health implications of controlled substance abuse, and law enforcement and state licensing boards utilize it when examining prescriber and pharmacy behaviors. There are also studies that use anonymous PDMP data in public health surveillance studies concerned with prescription drug use and evaluations of state policy changes in availability of controlled substances.

The research forum included facilitated discussions where researchers learned from practitioners about what aspects of new research would be most valuable. Kreiner says, “I didn’t anticipate how energized I and everyone else would be about this kind of work. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the forum went, and by all accounts it was a success.” Kreiner and his colleagues are currently soliciting feedback from participants, and will use that feedback to seek funding to organize future PDMP research forums on an annual basis.