The Pennsylvania Prescription Drug Monitoring Program: Reducing the Misuse of Prescription Opioids

  • Lynn S. Mirigian
  • Laura A. Hendrick
  • Janice L. Pringle
  • Michael A. Zemaitis


In 2016, 4,642 Pennsylvanians died from a drug overdose and 85% of these deaths were due to an opioid overdose (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy 2017). With a 37% increase in deaths from 2015, the Commonwealth’s response to this epidemic has come from several fronts. One valuable resource has been the modernization and implementation of Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). PDMPs are state-­run programs that record dispensing of most controlled substances and provide this data to physicians and pharmacists (among others) to inform their practice about possible opioid use disorder by a given patient. This article discusses the role of Pennsylvania’s PDMP in patient care and law enforcement to reduce opioid overdoses in the Commonwealth. Recent evidence is discussed that demonstrates the effectiveness of state-­run PDMPs and their impact on opioid misuse and prescribing patterns. It is important to note that additional research into the effectiveness of PDMPs in preventing opioid-­related morbidity and mortality is needed.