The Oklahoman’s recent coverage of the state’s prescription drug abuse problem and legislation proposed for mandatory physician checks of the Prescription Monitoring Program leads the public to believe that physicians don’t currently check the PMP and are unconcerned about the problem. This is untrue.
Most physicians recognize the problem and are working hard to curb prescription drug abuse. We feel lucky to have the PMP as a real-time database. Prescribers voluntarily checked the PMP more than 1.5 million times last year to check prior narcotics prescriptions. This undoubtedly prevented thousands of subsequent duplicate prescriptions.
Physicians wholeheartedly supported legislation passed last year to program the PMP to identify overusers and to notify physicians when their patient was receiving multiple prescriptions. Physicians are glad to have the PMP as a resource in Oklahoma. In short, physicians are already valuable partners in the fight against prescription drug abuse, but they can only address part of the problem.
Physician groups are working with legislators and the governor's office to negotiate meaningful legislation. With Oklahoma’s severe physician shortage — 45th in the nation in physicians per capita — we need to make sure that physicians’ time is used effectively. We need to make sure that physician use of the PMP is done in the most efficient manner possible in the most effective way to address overusers.
David A. Porter, M.D., Norman