Physicians and Pharmacists Score Access to PMP in Massachusetts

August 13, 2010
MD Magazine® Staff

Massachusetts has recently expanded its prescription drug monitoring system, according to an article in The Boston Globe published August 12.

Massachusetts has recently expanded its prescription drug monitoring program, according to an article in The Boston Globe published August 12.

The article, written by Stephen Smith, reports that physicians in Massachusetts will now be able to “identify patients who travel from clinic to clinic in pursuit of potent prescription drugs that feed lethal addictions.”

A state ruling by health regulators expanded the current PMP to help curb “doctor shopping;” at least “9,000 Massachusetts residents are suspected of engaging in doctor shopping annually,” the article reports .

The PMP will allow physicians and pharmacists to review online databases that show “previous prescriptions patients had filled for powerful painkillers.”

The previous PMP program, which began in 1992, did not give health providers access to the databases. Instead, public health officials would contact physicians to alert them of troublesome patterns with certain patients. Law enforcement was contacted as well for more serious cases.

Now, physicians and pharmacists will have direct access to the databases. Pharmacists will be “required to alert the state when they fill prescriptions from a broader roster of medications that include pain reliever such as Vicodin and Darvon, as well as steroids.” The databases will be updated more frequently as well: on a weekly basis.

In order to avoid the possibility of improper use of the databases, Massachusetts “authorities will conduct random checks to make sure information isn’t misused.” Get caught misusing the databases and you “could face substantial fines and other penalties.”