Current Issue - May/June 2020 - Vol 23 Issue 3


  1. 2020;23;299-304Mandatory Review of Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Before Issuance of a Controlled Substance Results in Overall Reduction of Prescriptions Including Opioids and Benzodiazepines
    Cohort Study
    Larry Manders, MD, and Alaa Abd-Elsayed, MD.

BACKGROUND: To date, there is limited research on whether the various types of mandatory usage of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) have any effects on prescribing patterns, drug usage, patient care, and drug diversion (8-10). Within the United States (US), there is wide variation in individual states’ requirements for the usage of PDMPs.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine whether mandatory prescriber review of a PDMP prior to each issuance of a controlled substance resulted in a reduction in the total number of controlled substance prescriptions dispensed.

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective review of the State of Wisconsin’s PDMP controlled substance database from April 2015 to March 2019 was performed. The evaluation compared the number of prescriptions among individual drug classes (opioids, benzodiazepines, stimulants) dispensed throughout the state before and after April 1st, 2017, when implementation of a state law mandating the review of the PDMP during each patient encounter prior to issuing a prescription for a controlled substance took effect.

SETTING: Research was conducted using Wisconsin’s PDMP controlled substance database from April 2015 to March 2019. During this time, controlled substance policy has come to the forefront of the nation due to issues with an opioid epidemic.

METHODS: Descriptive analysis was used to express data as n and % for categorical data and average ± standard deviation for numerical data. Before- and after-prescription totals were analyzed using a paired t test and Levene’s test for equality of variances. The P value was considered significant at a level of less than or equal to .05.

LIMITATIONS: Limitations to this study included its retrospective design, focus on a single US state, and possible unforeseen contributors to cause and effect.

RESULTS: Prior to the enforcement of the state’s mandatory PDMP legislation, an average of 844,314 controlled substance prescriptions were written monthly. Following the implementation of the law, the average monthly total prescriptions written within the state decreased to 708,063. This was an average monthly reduction of 136,251 prescriptions written or 16.1%. Statistically significant reductions were also seen in opioid and benzodiazepine subgroups (23.0%, 16.3%).

CONCLUSION: Our study suggests that state-enforced mandatory usage of a PDMP, which records all controlled substance prescriptions filled by a pharmacy such as opioids, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, etc. at every encounter prior to prescribing any controlled substance, can provide for a significant reduction in controlled substance prescriptions, specifically opioids and benzodiazepines.

KEY WORDS: Prescription drug monitoring program, opioids, mandatory usage, benzodiazepines, Wisconsin