PDMP State Mandates: Here to Stay for the Foreseeable Future

By: John Cole

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Date: 04/09/2017

Filed Under: PDMPs, Opioid Epidemic

A recent Washington Post article highlights the fact that states are quickly adopting comprehensive mandates requiring doctors who prescribe opioids and other controlled substances to check a patient’s prescription history within the statewide database (prescription drug monitoring program – PDMP). To date, eighteen states have implemented these mandates and it is likely that adoption will continue to increase in the coming months and years.  Bottom line—mandates are here to stay.


In states with mandates, PDMP enrollment and utilization rates are higher and opioid prescribing and doctor shopping has declined.  Additionally, overdoses and deaths related to prescription drugs have also declined. 

While research shows the effectiveness of mandatory PDMP usage, it is clear that not all doctors support these mandates.  In fact, the two largest physicians associations—the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians—have fought mandatory PDMP checks.  Doctors feel that policymakers enact required PDMP checks without a corresponding dedication of resources to address data quality and timeliness concerns.  In the article, Steven Stack, immediate past president of the AMA and an emergency-room physician, states that “the mandate imposes another time consuming burden on already overworked physicians and staffs that takes them away from their patients.”

Dr. Stack further highlights a clinician’s perspective stating, “we have taken doctors and turned them into clerical staff and typists.” Stack continues, “We are locked down at a computer, playing the equivalent of a very boring video game on very bad technology.”

The article makes it abundantly clear that: 1) mandated PDMP usage is effective in the fight against the opioid epidemic and 2) there are unintended negative consequences of the mandates. So, what will make these unintended negative consequences go away?

At AffirmHealth, we’ve zeroed in on that question.  Our software, AffirmHealth Dash, provides the practitioner efficient access to and effective use of the PDMP data within their daily workflow.  By automating the process, the practitioner can readily use the data to increase patient care, remain compliant, and stay efficient.

Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof, a non-profit that advocates strict mandates, stated that “fifteen years ago, there was no need to squeeze into your time with a patient the need to check a database to see what other medications they’re taking. The opioid crisis has changed that situation and they haven’t caught up with that.”

The opioid crisis calls for all hands deck. Checking the PDMP database is clearly effective.  Now, with AffirmHealth’s Dash, we’re making the data easy to access and apply. 

Like what you've read. Download our latest free eBook, Solving the Opioid Epidemic: A Clinician's Perspective by AffirmHealth Chief Medical Officer Mario Ramirez, MD.

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photo source: drugfree.org

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