HITN's Opioid Safety Alliance Responds to New CMS Guidance on PDMPs

Coalition warns against "tinkering around the edges" with flawed PDMP systems; calls for enactment of a Prescription Safety Alert System to thwart opioid misuse in real-time, including transactions across state lines

WASHINGTON, DC (June 12, 2018): Health IT Now's Opioid Safety Alliance - a working group of prescribers, dispensers, professional societies, and patients advocating for the use of technology to fight illegitimate opioid use - responded today to new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) touting the role of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in combating the opioid crisis, and encouraging states to consider applying for federal funding to enhance their PDMP.

The Opioid Safety Alliance has drawn attention to shortfalls of PDMPs in the past, writing that "[PDMPs] operate as a patchwork of separate programs in each state, creating troubling blind spots that allow episodes of abuse and unintended misuse to fester ... in many states, data on a potential abuser may not be available in real time and do not include fill attempts, which encourages pharmacy shopping." 

Alliance members have advocated for a facilitator model dubbed the Prescription Safety Alert System that would complement PDMPs by providing real-time clinical data at the point of dispensing using already existing transaction data.

HITN Opioid Safety Alliance Executive Director Joel White released the following statement:

"While CMS' comments about the need for integrating PDMP data with EHRs and minimizing provider burden to spur better usability are encouraging, the magnitude of the nationwide opioid crisis demands that we think bigger. Instead of tinkering around the edges and ultimately doubling down on a flawed system that leaves too much to chance, we need to empower clinicians with better, easy-to-use tools that complement the work of PDMPs to thwart opioid misuse in real-time - including transactions that occur across state lines," said HITN Opioid Safety Alliance Executive Director Joel White. "The Prescription Safety Alert System, devised by OSA members and based on respected National Council of Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) standards, would do exactly that. OSA supports continued efforts to enhance state PDMPs but the stakes are simply too high to rely solely on a lagging, unwieldy system that has done little to change the status quo of 115 opioid-related deaths per day. The time to enact a Prescription Safety Alert System is now." 

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