Illinois’ efforts to track drug prescriptions have come a long way from the paper and pencil reports of the early 2000s.
The Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) is an online tool that lets prescribers view patient history to identify people who are at risk for opioid dependence. It’s designed to flag people who go medication shopping — traveling from doctor to doctor to get multiple prescriptions for opioids.
All community pharmacists are required to report the controlled substances that they dispense to the PMP, which is connected to PMP systems in other states, says Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association.
The hope is to avoid “high-risk prescribing practices” that the CDC cites as a cause for the opioid crisis. Healthcare providers who identify an at-risk patient can direct them to counseling and non-opioid pain-prevention techniques.
“Since the PMP has been instituted in Illinois in this version, we’re seeing a downward trend on the prescriptions of various controlled substances, including opiates,” Reynolds says.
Patrick Laughlin, deputy director of communications for the Illinois Department of Human Services, confirms the decrease but says it can’t be linked directly to the PMP.
Still, any effort is essential in a state where more people died from opioid overdoses than homicides and car accidents combined in 2014.
“The opioid epidemic is a serious issue that we are dealing with in Illinois,” Reynolds says. “It’s going to take all of healthcare working together with our communities and law enforcement to get this situation under control and help save lives.”