Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Prevent Death, Overdose

Some programs prevent 1.55 fewer deaths per 100,000 people.

State prescription drug monitoring was found to prevent 2 deaths per day nationwide, according to a recent study.

These monitoring programs evaluate high-risk patients and healthcare provider behaviors. States with the most robust programs also tracked a larger number of substances, and updated their data at least weekly, a study published in Health Affairs noted.

Approximately 49 states have implemented prescription drug monitoring programs, with Missouri the only state that does not have these programs. Researchers analyzed data from prescription drug monitoring programs from 1999 to 2013.

They discovered that the more robust programs had 1.55 fewer deaths per 100,000 people compared with states with less robust programs.

"This work is important not only because it demonstrates that prescription drug monitoring programs can save lives, but also because it shows that there are specific actions that states can take to strengthen their programs," said senior study author Melinda Buntin, PhD.

The researchers said that if Missouri started this program, and if other states participated in more robust programs, there could be 600 fewer overdose-related deaths in 2016.

"Congress is currently considering legislation to bolster the US public health response to the opioid epidemic,” concluded lead author Stephen W. Patrick, MD. “Our findings suggest that investments in upgraded prescription drug monitoring programs will pay dividends in lives saved.”