In a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Health IT Now is urging the FDA to leverage health IT tools, in combination with physician education and training, to reduce instances of prescription drug and opioid abuse and addiction.
The organization provided comments to the FDA’s request for comments and notice of a public workshop to obtain input on issues and challenges associated with Federal efforts to support training on pain management and the safe prescribing, dispensing, and patient use of opioids.
In the letter, Health IT Now noted that according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), deaths from prescription drug abuse have outpaced those from cocaine and heroin combined in the last 14 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control(CDC), from 2000 to 2015 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses and the most recent statistics show that each day 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose.
While education and training for healthcare providers is one tool that the FDA has, Health IT Now said that training will be “reinforced and exponentially more effective when that education is paired with comprehensive and real-time data of the patient’s controlled substance prescription history. “In order for those pieces to coordinate, prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) need to be interoperable across state lines, real-time and within the workflow of prescribers and dispensers.”
“Compiling information from all operating state PDMPs is also needed to prevent cross-border shopping activity. Pharmacies already use transaction standards developed by the Standards Development Organization, the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP), and technology to glean information from electronic claims form to achieve these purposes. On the provider side, NCPDP’s HIPPA-compliant standards are also used in conjunction with Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems to provide the information regarding which medications are prescribed for the patient,” the organization wrote.
Further, Health IT Now is advocating the promotion of interoperability through a Patient Safety Network which stitches together the existing PDMPs through the utilization of current standards to provide comprehensive and complete information to prescribers and dispensers, allowing healthcare professionals to make informed clinical decisions with the benefit of data.
This type of solution would use a data a facilitator to aggregate information into a central repository that would house the data while individual state PDMPs would maintain control over the access of that information. The solution also would provide alerts, similar to the alerts in use under the Drug Utilization Review (DUR) program, to make a risk score known to the prescriber or dispenser.
“Utilizing existing interoperable standards that are employed throughout the industry today will ensure seamless implementation for providers by bringing PDMP information into their workflow and provide for the exchange of PDMP information in real-time at both the point of prescribing and dispensing. Enhancing the existing PDMP structure through the use of proven technology is a commonsense and proactive approach to reducing the instances of addiction and death ultimately caused by the abuse of prescription drugs and opioids,” the organization wrote.