New Hampshire is one of the states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. In 2015, 439 New Hampshire citizens died from opioid-related causes, and as of right now, New Hampshire is set to hit 500 opioid related deaths this year.
As the state works to address the epidemic, one shining light in the fight is their prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). NH launched their PDMP in 2014 to collect information on prescriptions for schedule II-IV. This fall, the NH PDMP released their annual report that shows the PDMP is having positive effects on the opioid epidemic. Prescriptions for schedule II drugs, such as opioids, is down by almost 13% and the number of patients that were flagged for potential doctor shopping (using 5 or more doctors or pharmacies for prescriptions) decreased from 9 a month to 3 a month. The impact of the PDMP is only going to grow in the coming years as more doctors and nurses access the database and information is collected quicker.
It’s been said time and time again, but PMDPs are a great resource and tool for states and doctors trying to get a grasp on the opioid problem. However, PDMPs do raise concerns about a patient’s privacy and therefore we have to make sure there are still limits on their reach. Who gets to look up a patient’s information? Who has access to search the program for information? Does the information get reported to law enforcement?
PDMPs work to give doctors and other medical professionals needed information about their patient’s history, medical needs, and even help identify those patients that have a problem and could benefit from other treatment options. PDMPs are a tool, not a fix-all of the opioid epidemic, but as New Hampshire shows, if used properly they can help in the battle.