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Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention Research & Activities

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

To address the issue of prescription drug overdoses, many states have created prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP), which use databases to track prescriptions of controlled substances
(drugs for which manufacture, possession, or use is regulated by the government). PDMPs are designed to prevent the misuse of prescription drugs that are prone to abuse—such as opioid painkillers and sedatives like benzodiazepines—by making doctors aware of the prescription histories of their patients. Almost all states now have operational PDMPs. These range from programs with limited staffing and outreach ability to large, well-staffed programs that make extensive use of the data they collect.

Studies done by CDC and others confirm that PDMPs are not a complete solution for ending the prescription drug overdose epidemic. Having lower overdose rates may depend on both a PDMP and other interventions. Additional studies are needed to identify the other components of effective policies. Further, PDMPs may impact this epidemic in other ways that have not been studied. For instance, PDMPs may reduce doctor shopping (when people obtain prescriptions from multiple prescribers) or deter prescription drug diversion (when prescription drugs are sold or given to people who use them for nonmedical reasons). The choices states make in how they operate their PDMPs need to be rigorously evaluated, as these decisions may affect the programs’ effectiveness.
Additional information about PDMPs can be found on the PDMP Center of Excellence web site.

PDMP Center of Excellence

Policy Impact: Prescription Painkiller Overdoses

CDC - Prescription Painkiller Overdoses policy brief image coverPrescription Painkiller Overdoses is one in a series of issue briefs highlighting key public health issues and important, science-based policy actions that can be taken to address them. Through this publication, CDC supports state-based efforts to reduce prescription drug abuse while ensuring patients have access to safe, effective pain treatment. The publication includes information about deaths and emergency department visits resulting from prescription painkiller overdoses, overdose trends, the most common drugs involved, and the regions and populations most severely affected. Recommendations on how health care providers, private insurance providers, and state and federal agencies can work to prevent unintentional drug overdoses are also included.

View or download Policy Impact

Prescription Drug Overdose: State Health Agencies Respond

To assess the knowledge, response, and planning regarding prescription drug misuse and overdose, in late 2007 the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and CDC conducted interviews with state and territorial health officials and other senior leaders in nine states (Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia). The resulting report, Prescription Drug Overdose: State Health Agencies Respond, outlines the state perceptions, partnerships, recommendations, policies, and other issues that are fundamental to understanding and responding to drug misuse.

Download a PDF version

State Prescription Drug Laws

This web-based resource is designed to provide a picture of some of the legal and regulatory strategies states have used to address prescription drug misuse, abuse, and overdose. At present, the website covers laws related to requiring identification before dispensing drugs, physical examination before prescribing, use of multiple prescribers or pharmacies, prescription limits, pain clinics, tamper-resistant forms, and immunity from prosecution.

Visit the web site


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