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A National Institute on Drug Abuse funded research study shows that when states implement prescription drug monitoring programs the rate of opioid overdose deaths is reduced. The research study has been published in the Health Affairs journal, and it also found that when these programs monitored more drugs which had abuse potential and made more frequent database updates the rate of deaths from opioid overdoses were even lower than the reduction seen when the programs did not have these characteristics. Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Division of Neonatology, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy, and lead author of the study Stephen Patrick, M.D., MPH, M.S., explained that “Today, opioid overdose deaths are more common than deaths from car crashes. Our study provides support that prescription drug monitoring programs are part of what needs to be a comprehensive approach to the prescription opioid epidemic.”

The senior study author of the research study on the effect that prescription drug monitoring programs have on opioid overdose deaths was professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt Melinda Buntin, Ph.D. According to Buntin “This work is important not only because it demonstrates that prescription drug monitoring programs can save lives, but also because it shows that there are specific actions that states can take to strengthen their programs.” The opioid abuse epidemic in the USA and Canada is a growing problem. If these programs can reduce the number of people who die from abusing these drugs then they should be implemented everywhere.