Delaware took a significant step forward in its efforts to combat prescription drug abuse and diversion this week with the official launch of the Delaware Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). In 2010, Governor Jack Markell signed the Delaware Prescription Monitoring Act which authorizes the Division of Professional Regulation--an agency of the Delaware Department of State--to establish, maintain and monitor the PMP in order to reduce misuse of controlled substances and promote improved professional practice and patient care.
"Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in Delaware and the nation, and it continues to destroy families and communities," said Governor Markell. "Prescription drug monitoring is one of the best means we have to combat this issue for the safety and welfare of all Delawareans."
The system primarily prevents "doctor shopping" by allowing medical practitioners and pharmacist to use the database to review patients' controlled substance prescription histories to ensure there is a legitimate need for the medication. There is also a requirement that the PMP be checked by practitioners if there is a reasonable belief that a patient may be seeking a controlled substance for other than the treatment of an existing medical condition, the provider must check the PMP before writing a prescription in those instances.
"The fact that the information will be readily available to practitioners, and updated on a daily basis, means that it will be much more difficult for individuals to "doctor shop' for medication, whether they intend to abuse the drugs themselves or sell them," said Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock. "The PMP will aid practitioners in detecting individuals who might be abusing and diverting controlled substances, and allow them to more confidently prescribe to patients with legitimate needs."
The PMP is a system that collects information on all controlled substance prescriptions (schedules II-V). Delaware-licensed pharmacies and prescribers who dispense controlled substances report prescription data to the PMP daily using the PMP website, pmp.delaware.gov. Delaware is one of only a handful of states which has 24-hour reporting. Prescribers and dispensers registered with the PMP can obtain immediate access to an online report of their current or prospective patient's controlled substance prescription history.
"For the first time, physicians now have a tool to balance the safety, treatment, and access needs for prescribing pain medication with the diversion and abuse problems which can accompany those medications," said Dr. Randeep Kahlon, President of the Medical Society of Delaware (MSD). "As a tool for transparency, quality of care, and public safety, the PMP is a real game changer."
This PMP website is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is to be used for healthcare purposes only. Law enforcement and regulators may request reports for investigative purposes, but do not have direct access to the PMP. Patients may request access to their PMP records at any time.
In addition to Governor Markell, Secretary of State Bullock and Dr. Randeep Kahlon, President of the Medical Society of Delaware, remarks were given at the official launch event by Deputy Secretary of State James Collins, who is also the Director of the Division of Professional Regulation; sponsors of the legislation Sen. Brian Bushweller and Sen. Bethany Hall-Long; Deputy Secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security Elizabeth Olsen; Chaitanya Gadde of the Delaware Pharmacists Association; and Elizabeth Perkins of the Delaware Chapter of (GRASP), a national support group for individuals and families who have lost loved ones to substance abuse or addiction.