Progress on state tracking database for prescription painkillers

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Feb 24, 2016 4:24 AM

(Harrisburg) -- A state database to track dispensing of some powerful prescription painkillers was supposed to be ready for the end of June 2015.

It's still not ready.

But, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is finally moving forward.

The state has chosen a vendor to create the software for the database, and will soon start teaching health care providers how to use it.

When it's ready, prescribers will be able to check it to see when someone last received prescription painkillers.

If there's sign of an addiction, they could stop the prescription and refer the person to treatment.

Health Secretary Doctor Karen Murphy says they want to make it almost routine to check the database.

"If a physician is using electronic health record, we would like to integrate the PDMP within that electronic health record, so it is easier for the physician to use, or nurse practitioner or physician assistant, the prescriber," says Murphy.

Murphy says federal grants are funding the effort, as well as more detailed studies on what drugs are especially in-demand in specific areas.

"We're hoping that the PDMP is more than a database. What we want the PDMP to be is a tool for physicians and nurse practitioners and those that are taking care of individuals that may have a problem."

She says the prescription drug monitoring program should be ready later this year.

Statistics show drug overdoses killed nearly 2,500 people in Pennsylvania in 2014, but the number is feared to be much higher.

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