SOUTHERN COLORADO — Doctor shopping is a strategy used to get more prescription drugs, by visiting a variety of doctors or pharmacies. A recent Colorado state audit found the program meant to stop doctor shopping is not operating as effectively as it could.
The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) was enacted in 2008 “to electronically track and monitor prescriptions to help prevent their misuse, allow prescribers to review their patients’ prescription histories, and help law enforcement and regulatory boards investigate potentially harmful prescribers,” according to the audit.
Since 2014, Colorado pharmacists have been required to submit their data on dispensed controlled substances to the PDMP database. However, the audit claims “most pharmacies did not submit prescription data to the PDMP within one business day, as rules require. Colorado pharmacies submitted about 5.5 million prescriptions (35 percent) an average of six business days late.” The Office of the State Auditor says that makes the PDMP database less accurate.
Other key findings from the audit include:
- Since the PDMP has been in place, recorded overdose deaths from prescription opioids rose significantly in Colorado, from 246 deaths in 2008 to 433 deaths in 2019.
- In 2018 and 2019, PDMP data showed 8,700 patients in Colorado with prescription histories that indicated doctor shopping for opioids because they each received one or more opioid prescriptions from 10 or more prescribers, which is nearly 10 times the average. For example, 20 patients got an average of 73 opioid prescriptions from at least 25 different doctors and 10 different pharmacies. Yet, the PDMP does not …….