Monthly Archives: February 2016

Prescription Drug Monitoring Systems Don’t Work Despite Pervasive Implementation

We are told that Missouri is an outlier, that 49 other states have prescription drug monitoring and that to bring the nation’s opiate crisis to heel Missouri has to sign on to wholesale monitoring and tracking of our personal health data.

But there isn’t any global indicator of the ability of prescription drug monitoring to reduce the prevalence of opiate addiction. Indeed, other states have generally failed to see actual success with these programs. Consider New York, the first state in the nation to enact a PDMP program (in 1973). Or Texas (1989), Oklahoma (1990), Tennessee (1990), Indiana (1994), Utah (1995), West Virginia (1995), Nevada (1997), California (1998), or Kentucky (1998). In fact, by 2000, there were 12 states with some kind of PDMP program; by 2010, that number was 37. Currently, Missouri is the only state without a PDMP program.

Yet, in “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” published by the CDC January 1, 2016, researchers found that “Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin).” In fact, in the 2013-2014 time period, when there was a PDMP program enacted in almost every state, the CDC found “Rates of opioid overdose deaths also increased significantly, from 7.9 per 100,000 in 2013 to 9.0 per 100,000 in 2014, a 14% increase.”

These trends strongly indicate that the opiate addiction and overdose problems we face are not effectively addressed by prescription monitoring. Indeed, it is likely that driving people out of the legal medical system boosts the market for black-market heroin, imported by violent multi-national drug cartels that operate with tremendous sophistication. As DEA special agent James Shroba recently said to the Joplin Globe “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem.”