Pennsylvania Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Takes Aim at Opioid Abuse

Registration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s new prescription drug monitoring program, known as “Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions” or “ABC-MAP,” is now open. The new state-run Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) was created to help fight opioid abuse in Pennsylvania.

The Commonwealth’s new ABC-MAP program will allow prescribers and dispensing healthcare providers to submit and view all controlled substance data for individual patients, offering a more complete picture of each patient’s controlled substance use, which has been shown to improve safety and decrease medication abuse. The program’s primary goal is to stop the abuse of controlled substances, including opioid painkillers, and reduce incidents of addiction.  

Studies have indicated that up to 80% of heroin users began their abuse of drugs by misusing prescription medication. The PDMP will help identify patients who may be abusing prescription medications, so they can be referred for substance abuse treatment and thereby interrupt the path toward addiction and illicit drug use. Having access to complete medication histories can alert healthcare providers to potentially dangerous drug interactions, identify at-risk patients, and help providers make individual treatment decisions. In addition, law enforcement agencies will have access to the database, increasing their ability to detect and prevent fraud, abuse and diversion of controlled substances.

On June 24, 2016, dispensers were required to begin collecting and submitting information to the PDMP about the prescriptions they distributed. Under the program, pharmacies (including mail order and Internet pharmacies) and healthcare practitioners that dispense controlled substances have 72 hours to report to the system that a controlled substance has been dispensed. The database is immediately updated when the information is added, giving other dispensers and prescribers “real-time” access to PDMP data.

System registration for healthcare professionals began August 8, 2016; the system goes live on August 25, 2016. At that point, dispensers and prescribers will be able to reference the database when distributing prescriptions for controlled substances. With the up-to-the-minute information available through the PDMP, healthcare professionals will be able to make more informed treatment decisions for their patients.

The Path to the PDMP

This is not the Commonwealth’s first attempt at prescription drug monitoring. A prior version was initiated which did not allow access by medical providers; data was only accessible by the state attorney general, and the system did not have a portal for input and queries from medical providers across the healthcare spectrum. The ratification of Act 191 in October 2014 authorized the modernization of the PDMP, with an original program launch date of June 30th, 2015. As it turned out, the effort needed to complete the sweeping undertaking was greatly underestimated, funding was neither specified nor secured, and the state budget crisis of 2015 all combined to leave the project in limbo.

However, a federal grant got the ABC-MAP project back on track by providing the revenue required for program implementation. In February 2016, Appriss, a data solutions and analytics company, was selected as the project vendor, and made available for use in Pennsylvania its established proprietary PDMP platform. This data-sharing platform is accessed in 23 states, and assists the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) in connecting the various state PDMPs. A notable system feature is that medical professionals representing payers or insurers  are not authorized to access the system; only healthcare providers who directly prescribe or dispense to patients may access PDMP data. Such access restrictions ensure that patient data remains secure and that their health information privacy rights are protected.

For more information on the new ABC-MAP program, you can visit the official website here.