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Healthcare providers currently have no way of knowing if a patient has multiple prescriptions for controlled substances.

That will change Aug. 25, when Pennsylvania’s new Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PA PDMP) opens to providers. The program collects information on all filled prescriptions for controlled substances, helping providers to prescribe safely and patients to get the treatment they need.

Lauren Hughes, M.D., MPH, Deputy Secretary for Health Innovation, said the state Department of Health recommends that providers check the PDMP database every time they prescribe a controlled substance to a patient.

“The database is a tool that will increase the quality of patient care by giving healthcare providers access to critical data to make better clinical decisions, as well as recognize and refer patients who need treatment,” said Dr. Hughes, a family physician.

Pennsylvania is the 49th state to create a controlled substance database for use by healthcare providers.  As of June 24, pharmacies and pharmacists are required by law to report all Schedule II-V dispensed prescriptions to the PDMP system within 72 hours of being dispensed.
The database tool, which can be embedded in Epic and other electronic medical records systems, will display a patient’s controlled substance prescription medication history, alerting providers to any potential dangers.
Providers must complete a simple registration process to obtain a user name and password for the database. The Department of Health will provide information on registration, as well as additional educational materials, in the near future.
Other states with similar programs have seen a decrease in prescriptions for controlled substances and an increase in patients seeking treatment, Dr. Hughes said.
“As physicians, we are trained to practice evidence-based medicine and use data to make better decisions for our patients,” she said. “The PDMP is an excellent way to access data that will help us make better clinical decisions.”

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