Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Linked to Reductions in Opioid Overdose Deaths

Science Spotlight

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New research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that state implementation of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) was associated with a reduction in opioid-related overdose deaths. The study, published in Health Affairs, also found that PDMPs that monitored greater numbers of drugs with abuse potential and updated their data more frequently had greater declines in opioid-related overdose deaths than programs without those characteristics.

Study authors found that implementation of a PDMP was linked to a decrease of 1.12 opioid-related overdose deaths per 100,000 population. A state with a program that monitored four or more drug schedules and updated their information at least weekly was predicted to have 1.55 fewer opioid-related overdose deaths per 100,000 population annually than a state without a program.

PDMPs are statewide electronic databases that track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances, including patients who might be seeking prescriptions from multiple doctors ("doctor shopping"). PDMPs are designed to help authorities monitor for suspected abuse or diversion of prescription medications, including opioid analgesics, and can help health care professionals identify patients who may be at risk for drug misuse or addiction and could benefit from early intervention.

The study authors concluded that additional support is needed to bolster PDMPs and to increase the number of drug schedules monitored by the program and the frequency of data updating to continue to reduce the staggering numbers of overdose deaths in the U.S. in recent years from opioid misuse.

For a copy of the abstract, "Implementation of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Associated with Reductions in Opioid-Related Death Rates," go to

For more information about prescription opioids, go to:

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About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): NIDA is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. For more information about NIDA and its programs, visit

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