The improper use of medication can lead to serious injury for the parties involved. Along with the physical ramifications, such actions may also lead to criminal charges depending upon the type of substance.
In an effort to reduce these dangerous instances, lawmakers have put certain programs in place. The Prescription Drug Monitoring program is one such plan, and has made some important progress over the years.
The program and agenda
In short, the program consists of a network of pharmacies and other prescription drug dispensaries that all report to a web-based database. All parties must document the patients they see and the drugs they administer by end of business the day after the event. The purpose is to aid in the management of prescriptions and treatment plans for patients, as well as to try to prevent drug abuse opportunities.
As with many new regulations, the monitoring program regulations have had some updates. Since New Hampshire's beginning implementation in 2014, there have been a few changes. Most of the alterations target making the way that parties utilize the database uniform. For example, in 2016, lawmakers made it mandatory for prescribers to check the database before administering prescriptions.
There are mixed reviews on the monitoring program. A state audit of the program at the end of 2017 was not favorable. In fact, the audit says that the program lacks the necessary systems to be effective. However, a previous president of the Board of Pharmacy shared a response that paints a different story. He states that over the short course of the program, it has caused a positive shift in the prescribing habits of physicians. Also, earlier reports showed a strong decrease in opioid prescriptions and cases of doctor shopping, or obtaining prescriptions from more than one physician at a time.
As lawmakers continue to develop the prescription drug monitoring program over time, many hope that it will increase the safety of patients. For further clarity and information, it may be helpful to review the legislation in full.