State programs that aim to curb prescription drug abuse and addiction should do more to analyze the data they collect and share it with physicians, pharmacists, insurers and law enforcement, a new study finds.
Prescription-drug monitoring programs collect information in an electronic database about controlled substances that are dispensed from pharmacies. The study, conducted by researchers at Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass., for the Pew Charitable Trusts, noted that 41 states now have such monitoring programs in place, compared with 16 in 2001. However, many states don't make optimal use of all of the data they collect, the researchers found.
"Being proactive is the key to success in the fight against prescription painkiller abuse," said John Eadie, director of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Center of Excellence at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management, in a news release. "While doctors may routinely collect and report data to a state program that signals where and when prescription painkillers are likely being misused, the program might not share that information with others who can best use it."