Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $2,000,000)
In 2020, drug overdose deaths reached 5,168 in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (PA), currently the second highest number in state history, and the fourth highest number in the United States. The age-adjusted drug overdose death rate also reached 42.4 deaths per 100,000, far exceeding the national average of 28.3 deaths per 100,000. Preliminary data indicates that the overdose epidemic continues to worsen in PA, with local data showing higher counts in 2021 than in 2020. Also, the drug overdose epidemic in Pennsylvania has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. In 2021, although white persons account for most overdose deaths in the state, the overdose death rate among Black Pennsylvanians was more than double that of white Pennsylvanians.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP) emerged as crucial tools in improving prescribing habits, minimizing the risks associated with controlled substances, and reducing drug overdose related morbidity and mortality. The implementation of the PA PDMP as a clinical care tool in 2016 has resulted in notable decreases in risky prescribing practices and more judicious opioid prescribing. Yet, opportunities to improve data collection and increase PDMP utilization remain. Given the number and heterogeneity of pharmacies, and volume of controlled substance dispensations in PA, data timeliness and accuracy continue to pose challenges. Also, as the overdose epidemic continues to change, the needs of PA’s PDMP users are evolving. The proposed following objectives aim to enhance the effectiveness of the PDMP system by facilitating and expanding data sharing, improving the timeliness and accuracy of data, and ultimately equipping PDMP users with information to aid in their decision making.
PA aims to advance its PDMP by facilitating information sharing among states and utilizing emerging technology and reporting methods to improve collection and sharing of PDMP data; addressing staffing needs; improving the quality and accuracy of PDMP data; enhancing the PDMP system; increasing pharmacy participation in real-time reporting; producing and disseminating educational materials; providing real-time data access to PA’s Patient Advocacy Program to facilitate re-establishing care for individuals at risk of withdrawal; and supporting collaboration among stakeholders.
A multitude of substance misuse prevention and response initiatives across PA, as well as national efforts, rely on the PA PDMP data for the intelligent allocation of resources and tailoring public health interventions. State and national drug-related public policies are also formed based on PDMP data trends, further highlighting the need for timely, accurate, and reliable data. The proposed system enhancements will allow the PA PDMP to improve the reliability and usefulness of its data and improve the system to meet the changing needs of its users, which in turn allows for prescribers to make informed clinical decisions and the formation of data-driven opioid prevention and response activities.