Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

From Monitoring the Opioid Epidemic to Intervening (2017)

Analytics could help us stem the opioid crisis. We just need to solve a few red tape and data problems.

Earlier this year I attended the National Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, where Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) were a frequent topic of panels and presentations. The basic purpose of PDMPs is to collect, house and standardize data from pharmacies and dispensing providers in regard to controlled substances. PDMPs provide that information back to providers and pharmacists so they can see a patient’s prescription history and, ideally, help them identify high-risk patients who may need early intervention.

The opioid epidemic has put PDMPs in the spotlight, but they’ve actually existed for quite some time.

Believe it or not, California set up the first PDMP in 1939 to monitor narcotic prescriptions and tracked them by numbered forms. The early 1990s saw the first PDMPs to collect information in electronic format and the first state—Nevada—to provide data directly to pharmacists and prescribers. To date, 49 states, the District of Columbia and the Territory of Guam have some form of PDMP. Recently Missouri stated that it is working on a public-private partnership to develop a version of a prescription monitoring program.

I give this history lesson to make it clear that PDMPs are not some new concept, suffering growing pains and struggling towards maturity.

Analytics could help us stem the opioid crisis. We just need to solve a few red tape and data problems.

Notice about external resources

These links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual. NIC bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.