Supporting Law Enforcement through Optimized Drug Monitoring Programs

A final technical report, "Optimizing Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs to Support Law Enforcement Activities", has been made available through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, NIJ has made available the following final technical report. (This report is the result of an NIJ-funded project but was not published by the U.S. Department of Justice.)

Optimizing Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs to Support Law Enforcement Activities (pdf, 16 pages)

Patricia Freeman, Ph.D., Karen Blumenschein, Pharm.D., Amie Goodin, M.P.P., George E. Higgins, Ph.D., Jeff Talbert, Ph.D., Gennaro F. Vito, Ph.D., Sarah Wixson, M.S.

Prescriptions for controlled substances, particularly opioids, have increased substantially over the last 15 years. Accompanying this increase is a prevalence of prescription controlled substance abuse, diversion and mortality due to overdoses. Currently, the death-rate for prescription opioids exceeds that for cocaine and heroin combined.

In response to public health and law enforcement concerns about escalating abuse and diversion, states created oversight programs for controlled prescription drugs. With the exception of Missouri, all states have implemented prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) as a policy tool to mitigate abuse, diversion and overdoses.

Reducing diversion — such as doctor shopping, theft, or prescription forgery — and preventing the abuse of prescription drugs are goals for all prescription drug monitoring programs. However, there is variability in how individual states implement and operate these programs, including policies and mechanisms for law enforcement access and utilization.

As a data repository, the PDMP contains information, such as prescriber, dispenser, patient, drug, dose and amount dispensed, for each prescription controlled substance dispensed to patients within the state. This project examined law enforcement use and perceptions of the PDMP.

The project held the following four objectives:

  • Compare and contrast current enabling legislation, structural features and operational procedures for select PDMPs
  • Analyze law enforcement access to and utilization of PDMP reports
  • Analyze law enforcement personnel perceptions regarding the value and impact of PDMP reports
  • Identify key features of PDMPs that are optimal for supporting law enforcement investigations

Findings suggest that training in how to access the PDMP and interpret its reports are important factors in how law enforcement personnel perceive the utility and effectiveness of these programs. The variability in how states permit law enforcement access to program data should be further studied to clarify the impact of various access designs on PDMP goals, including reductions in abuse, diversion, morbidity and mortality related to illicit prescription drug use.

To download a PDF of the report, click here.

Source: NIJ

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