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Iowa Prescription Monitoring Report Out

The Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, has published the required report from our Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). The report is submitted to the Governor’s Office from the Iowa State Board of Pharmacy. The PMP provides authorized prescribers and pharmacists with the information they need to monitor drug use in their patients and gives an opportunity to spot drug abuse behavior early. Pharmacies must enter all addictive prescription products into the system.

The latest report shows the number of authorized users has increased as the system finds use among not only medical professionals but law enforcement and regulatory agencies as well. For example, if the medical board receives a complaint about overprescribing by a physician, they can access the data to determine if the complaint has merit.

One concern addressed in the report was that the PMP would have an adverse effect on prescribing of controlled substances to patients. This has turned out not to be the case and both the number of prescriptions and doses for registered drugs has increased since implementation of the PMP.

One matter for concern is the amount of Schedule II drugs dispensed from five or more prescribers or pharmacies. In 2009 (the first year of tracking) the number was 500. This then dipped in the next two years by half. Last year, the number went up to 500 again. Schedule II drugs have the highest potential for abuse and include Percocet, Morphine and Dilaudid. The category of controlled medications with the highest percentage is pain relievers, with hydrocodone and acetaminophen combinations (e.g. Vicodin) accounting for more than 28 percent of all tracked prescriptions.

The uptick in Schedule II prescriptions cannot, by itself, indicate misuse. However, the use of multiple pharmacies and physicians for the same drug and the same patient usually deserves a second look. It may be a matter of convenience for the patient or caregiver, but it can also mean a patient who is “doctor shopping” – seeing multiple physicians for the same ailment and doubling (or tripling) up on their meds.

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