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Preventing opioid abuse

Thinking of prescribing an opioid? Learn the facts first:

  • More than 16,000 Americans died in 2013 from an opioid-related overdose.
  • More than 8,000 Americans died from a heroin-related overdose in 2013.

The AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse has been charged to empower you to be an advocate for preventing opioid abuse and promoting appropriate prescribing.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are key screening tools to help determine whether to prescribe an opioid.

When used effectively, PDMPs can help assess your patient's prescription history and immediately determine whether your patients have received prescriptions from other prescribers and dispensers, including those from other states.

Educate yourself and your colleagues about the effective use of PDMPs today.

It's up to you to be the leader in solving our nation's opioid abuse epidemic.

Contact your state medical society

Using a PDMP before you prescribe can save lives—but not all PDMP's are created equal.

The Task Force urges you to work with your state medical society to ensure that your state's PDMP is fully funded, up-to-date and contains these key elements to help reduce prescription drug misuse and allow you to prescribe smarter.

An effective PDMP can help you and your practice do the following:

  • Quickly, simply and accurately assess your patient's prescription history while the patient is in the exam room – or prior to the visit
  • Immediately determine whether your patients have received prescriptions from other prescribers and dispensers, including from other states
  • Easily register to use a PDMP as part of your license renewal process
  • Identify other prescribers so that you can help coordinate care and determine appropriate follow-up activities and structure of care
  • Help you identify when you may need to counsel and refer the patient for additional treatment for persistent pain or a substance use disorder
  • Allows you to review your own prescribing history
  • Enable nurses, physician assistants and other trained delegates in your office to check the PDMP as part of the patient's pre-visit planning
  • Allows you to create alerts so you will know when a patient receives a prescription for opioids from other prescribers
  • Provide and encourage best practices – as determined by physicians in the same or similar practice – when making prescribing decisions
  • Guidelines for checking the PDMP should include common-sense exemptions for certain, vulnerable patient populations (e.g. cancer, home-bound hospice or palliative care patients)
  • Allows prompts for co-prescribing naloxone when clinically indicated