Sunday, June 6, 2010

Monitoring Prescription Drugs

Overdoses and deaths involving the use of prescription drugs are reported daily in the news involving celebrities and average citizens creating an enormous need to reduce drug abuse. To help deal with the issue, several years ago, Congress appropriated funding to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to support the “Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)”.

The goal is to help prevent and detect the abuse of pharmaceutical controlled substances particularly at the retail level where automated information collection systems do not exist. As a result, some states have established prescription monitoring programs to collect and analyze prescription data for drug abuse, addiction, and to support access to the legitimate medical use of controlled substances. The state prescription drug monitoring programs are being established through the Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (HRPDMP).

Richard Gannon, the Manager for Pharmacy Pain Control at the Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, reported in the newsletter “The Alliance Monitor” that the Connecticut Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) really works. For example, if patients can’t remember their medications or only have a partial list, doctors are able within 5 minutes to have access to all of the patients’ controlled drug prescriptions.

He continued to report that in two instances at his hospital where patients were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit comatose, the doctors by using the PMP were able to determine what controlled drugs the patient had taken and could then administer the reversing agents.

With funding, BJA through the PDMP Training and Technical Assistance Center is creating a PMP Center of Excellence. For this purpose, BJA recently selected the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, located at Brandeis University to coordinate the activities for the new Center.

The new Center will assist the prescription drug monitoring programs so far authorized in 41 states and the U.S. Territory of Guam. The center will develop an informational clearinghouse and a forum for the exchange of ideas plus provide useful and timely data on prescriptions to doctors, pharmacies, and regulatory agencies.

According to Peter Kreiner, a Scientist at the Heller School and Principal Investigator, the Center will work with the “Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs” to identify “best practices” so that new and existing PMPs can improve their operations, and develop target studies to help improve their effectiveness.

Brandeis University brings expertise to the program with experience in substance abuse, prescription drug abuse, prevention, and treatments that are essential to help solve the many issues involved in controlling the use of unauthorized drugs in the U.S. The Center’s goal is also to build upon and extend existing interstate relationships and networks.

“We are very pleased that BJA and the Heller School are collaborating to establish the Center,” said John Eadie, the Director for the Center of Excellence and a long time advocate of PMPs. “It will help prescription monitoring programs achieve their full potential in addressing what I believe is a very serious epidemic of drug abuse—one that’s already taken thousands of lives.”

The “Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs” in partnership with Brandeis University and BJA will hold their 6th National Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Meeting June 28-30 in Washington D.C. The meeting will address the issues surrounding prescription monitoring programs (PMP).

For more information, email John Eadie, Director of the Center of Excellence at or email Peter Kreiner, the Center’s Principal Investigator, at