Impact of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) on Opioid Utilization Among Medicare Beneficiaries in 10 U.S. States

Published in:Addiction, [Epub May 2017]. doi: 10.1111/add.13860

Posted on on June 14, 2017

by Beth Ann Griffin, G. Caleb Alexander

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Background and Aims

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are a principal strategy used in the USA to address prescription drug abuse. We (1) compared opioid use pre- and post-PDMP implementation and (2) estimated differences of PDMP impact by reason for Medicare eligibility and plan type.


Analysis of opioid prescription claims in US states that implemented PDMPs relative to non-PDMP states during 2007–2012.


Florida, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Vermont, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Arkansas, USA.


310,105 disabled and older adult Medicare enrolees.


Primary outcomes were monthly total opioid volume, mean daily morphine milligram equivalent (MME) dose per prescription, and number of opioid prescriptions dispensed. The key predictors were PDMP status and time. Tests for moderation examined PDMP impact by Medicare eligibility (disability versus age) and drug plan (privately-provided Medicare Advantage [MAPD] versus fee-for-service [PDP]).


Overall, PDMP implementation was associated with reduced opioid volume [2.36 kg/month, 95% Confidence Interval (CI)=-3.44, -1.28] and no changes in mean MMEs or opioid prescriptions twelve months after implementation compared with non-PDMP states. We found evidence of strong moderation effects. In PDMP states, estimated monthly opioid volumes decreased 1.67 kg (95% CI=-2.38, -0.96) and 0.75 kg (95% CI=-1.32, -0.18) among disabled and older adults, respectively, and 1.2 kg, regardless of plan type. MME reductions were 3.73 mg/prescription (95% CI=-6.22, -1.24) in disabled and 3.02mg/prescription (95% CI=-3.86, -2.18) in MAPD beneficiaries but there were no changes in older adults and PDP beneficiaries. Dispensed prescriptions increased 259/month (95% CI=39, 479) among the disabled and decreased 610/month (95% CI=-953, -257) among MAPD beneficiaries.


Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are associated with reductions in opioid use, measured by volume, among disabled and older adult Medicare beneficiaries in the USA compared with states that do not have PDMPs. PDMP impact on daily doses and daily prescriptions varied by reason for eligibility and plan type. These findings cannot be generalized beyond the 10 US states studied.

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