Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and Prescription Opioid-Related Outcomes in the United States

Victor Puac-Polanco, Stanford Chihuri, David S. Fink, Magdalena Cerdá, Katherine M. Keyes, Guohua Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are a crucial component of federal and state governments' response to the opioid epidemic. Evidence about the effectiveness of PDMPs in reducing prescription opioid-related adverse outcomes is mixed. We conducted a systematic review to examine whether PDMP implementation within the United States is associated with changes in 4 prescription opioid-related outcome domains: opioid prescribing behaviors, opioid diversion and supply, opioid-related morbidity and substance-use disorders, and opioid-related deaths. We searched for eligible publications in Embase, Google Scholar, MEDLINE, and Web of Science. A total of 29 studies, published between 2009 and 2019, met the inclusion criteria. Of the 16 studies examining PDMPs and prescribing behaviors, 11 found that implementing PDMPs reduced prescribing behaviors. All 3 studies on opioid diversion and supply reported reductions in the examined outcomes. In the opioid-related morbidity and substance-use disorders domain, 7 of 8 studies found associations with prescription opioid-related outcomes. Four of 8 studies in the opioid-related deaths domain reported reduced mortality rates. Despite the mixed findings, emerging evidence supports that the implementation of state PDMPs reduces opioid prescriptions, opioid diversion and supply, and opioid-related morbidity and substance-use disorder outcomes. When PDMP characteristics were examined, mandatory access provisions were associated with reductions in prescribing behaviors, diversion outcomes, hospital admissions, substance-use disorders, and mortality rates. Inconsistencies in the evidence base across outcome domains are due to analytical approaches across studies and, to some extent, heterogeneities in PDMP policies implemented across states and over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-153
Number of pages20
JournalEpidemiologic Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 31 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • drug prescriptions
  • opioid-related disorders
  • prescription drug diversion
  • prescription drug monitoring programs
  • substance-related disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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