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March 7, 2012

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs—Reply

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Emergency Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (hallamg@gmail.com).

JAMA. 2012;307(9):912-913. doi:10.1001/jama.307.9.912-c

In Reply: We agree with Mr Yokell and colleagues about the potential for prescription monitoring programs to affect rates of opioid overdose mortality and concur that, ideally, this approach would be combined with community-based efforts. Prescription monitoring programs contain a wealth of information about the demographic trends of opioid poisoning and overdose and may reveal changes in prescribing practices that are shaping the evolving epidemic.

Like Yokell et al, we have also noted—both in our own clinical practice and in that of colleagues—that real-time access to prescription databases for health professionals facilitates a patient-centered approach to addressing opioid abuse. In addition, we have encountered physicians managing chronic opioid therapy who are more comfortable checking a prescription monitoring program report than mandating urine drug screening, which requires awkward patient confrontation and can result in disruption of the patient-physician alliance.1