St. Louis County’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) has just completed its first year of operations and is already a valuable tool in battling opioid addiction across the state.
“We started a County PDMP because Missouri was the only state without such a program,” said St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger at a news conference marking the first anniversary of the program’s operation. “We invited others to join us and already 79 percent of the state’s population is covered by our PDMP.”
A Prescription Drug Monitoring Program creates a confidential database of certain drug prescriptions that can be viewed only by physicians and pharmacists. The database helps ensure that patients aren’t “doctor shopping” to receive multiple opioid prescriptions. The goals of a PDMP are:
improve opioid prescribing by providing critical information regarding a patient’s controlled substance prescription history,
inform clinical practice by identifying patients at high-risk who would benefit from early interventions.
reduce the number of people who misuse, abuse, or overdose while making sure patients have access to safe, effective pain management.
Since its inception, St. Louis County’s PDMP has produced actionable monthly and quarterly data for all 58 participating jurisdictions. The data collected shows that these goals are being addressed. Physicians and pharmacists are actively using the PDMP to identify patients that need assistance for prevention of substance abuse or treatment of an existing disorder. Including 58 jurisdictions, the St. Louis County PDMP covers 79% of the population and 92% of all providers statewide. Over 6,600 healthcare providers are registered to utilize the PDMP. Among the findings during the PDMP’s first 12 months:
On average, 129,713 opioid prescriptions are dispensed to St. Louis County residents each month. These prescriptions account for an average of 3,125,266 opioid pills dispensed to St. Louis County residents monthly.
Approximately 21,000 controlled substances are dispensed daily from jurisdictions
currently participating in the PDMP, and an average of 5,200 of those are dispensed daily in St. Louis County.
Hydrocodone, oxycodone, and tramadol are the three most frequently prescribed opioids and comprise 85% of opioid prescriptions.
In the past year, the PDMP multiple provider episode alert has been generated for 13,974 patients. The multiple provider episode alert generates when a patient has filled prescriptions written by 3 or more prescribers that are filled at 3 or more pharmacies within a 6 month period.
The average length of an opioid prescription is 16 days for St. Louis County residents.
In the last 7 years, there have been 1,045 opioid-related deaths in St. Louis County. In 2017, St. Louis County experienced 203 opioid-related deaths.
“There are still too many people dying from abuse and overdoses,” County Executive Stenger said. “But our prescription drug monitoring program is saving lives as part of a multi-faceted approach we are using to combat the opioid crisis in our community. County police and first responders have successfully used Narcan to reverse an overdose 146 times since 2016. The St. Louis County Public Health Department is also working with community partners to increase access to opioid treatment and recovery services.”
The U.S. Department of Justice awarded St. Louis County two grants totaling $1,000,000 to address the opioid epidemic. The County is using the money to cover all PDMP costs for participating jurisdictions for 2 years. This grant is also supporting PDMP engagement, education, and reporting.
“We are continually looking for new, effective ways to battle this opioid epidemic and stand ready to work with our entire community in addressing this scourge,” Stenger said.