In efforts to help states reduce prescription drug abuse and misuse, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it is providing close to $9 million in grants to 19 state states to help create, implement and enhance prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs).
These awards support collaboration between law enforcement, prosecutors, public health, treatment professionals, pharmacies, and the medical community to promote strategies that inform effective policies, support investigations, and offer treatment intervention and prevention efforts for at-risk individuals and communities.
PDMPs are state-run databases that collect data about controlled substance prescriptions dispensed by pharmacies and doctors. Authorized users, including prescribers and dispensers, are permitted to monitor dispensing activity through these programs.
Last week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch sent a letter to state Governors calling on them to strengthen the effectiveness of PDMPs and to improve data sharing about patient prescriptions, both within states and among neighboring states. According to the DoJ, checking a PDMP before prescribing helps to improve appropriate pain management care, prevent diversion of drugs, and identify patients who may have an opioid use disorder and need treatment. In certain states, law enforcement officers may also obtain authorization to access PDMP data. Evidence suggests that PDMPs improve patient care while preventing abuse and overdose deaths.
In addition to the grant funding, the DoJ also released a strategy memo to address prescription opioid abuse and the heroin epidemic. The strategy memo to federal prosecutors outlines key action items that the DoJ will take as part of the Obama Administration’s overall strategy to address the opioid epidemic. While the epidemic is a national problem, the department has and will continue to tailor efforts to the needs of each region, DoJ officials stated.
With a focus on strengthening PDMPs, the Bureau of Justice Assistance is developing report cards, as well as other reports, to alert prescribers about potentially inappropriate prescribing practices, and will promote the use of these report cards, and encourage use of the PDMP.
The Office of Justice Programs plans the study the need for grant programs to help promote the creation of timely, cleaned, de-identified PDMP information and other public data sets that are fully accessible by public health and law enforcement officials.
“Misuse of prescription drugs is a national problem, that requires the cooperative efforts of all medical, health, pharmaceutical, law enforcement agencies, and other partners to solve,” Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason of the Office of Justice Programs said in a statement. “These awards provide a foundation of resources for enabling data collection, sharing, and collaboration to help prevent prescription medication misuse and abuse.”
The grant awards are funded under the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program FY 2016 Competitive Grant Program. The awards are administered by BJA in coordination with a myriad of partners, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion Control, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.
The grant awardees are: Alabama Dept. of Public Health; Arkansas Dept. of Health; Arizona State Board of Pharmacy; Connecticut Dept. of Consumer Protection; Dept. of Public Health Social Services; Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services; Illinois Dept. of Human Services; City of Lowell, Massachusetts; Maryland Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene; State of Michigan Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs; Minnesota Board of Pharmacy; Mississippi Board of Pharmacy; Multnomah County Health Dept., Oregon; Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services; Ohio Board of Pharmacy; South Dakota Dept. of Health; Tennessee Dept. of Health; University of Florida and Utah Dept. of Health.