So-called “doctor shopping” fell 86 percent in the first year of Pennsylvania’s prescription drug monitoring program, according to state officials.
The program, launched in August 2016, lets doctors see if a patient has gotten prescription painkillers or other potentially addictive drugs from other physicians. Doctor shopping is defined as a patient visiting five or more prescribers and pharmacies in a three-month period for certain addictive medications.
“It has played a key role in increasing communication to not only reduce the number of unnecessarily prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines, but also getting patients with substance abuse disorders the help they need,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a news release.
He noted that the program is becoming even stronger this month “with the launch of a new initiative that connects it to patients’ electronic health records, providing near-instant access to critical prescription history.”
The program averaged over 1.1 million searches monthly, according to state officials, and lets users see if patients have filed controlled substance prescriptions in Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.
Additionally, they said, users of a similar program in Maryland can search Pennsylvania’s program.
“Ensuring that medication is prescribed safely and effectively saves lives,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary and physician general.