Impact of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) on opioid utilization among Medicare beneficiaries in 10 US States

Patience Moyo, Linda Simoni-Wastila, Beth Ann Griffin, Eberechukwu Onukwugha, Donna Harrington, George Caleb Alexander, Francis Palumbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background and aims: Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are a principal strategy used in the United States to address prescription drug abuse. We (1) compared opioid use pre- and post-PDMP implementation and (2) estimated differences of PDMP impact by reason for Medicare eligibility and plan type. Design: Analysis of opioid prescription claims in US states that implemented PDMPs relative to non-PDMP states during 2007-12. Setting: Florida, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Vermont, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maryland, New Hampshire and Arkansas, USA. Participants: A total of 310105 disabled and older adult Medicare enrolees. Measurements: Primary outcomes were monthly total opioid volume, mean daily morphine milligram equivalent (MME) dose per prescription and number of opioid prescriptions dispensed. The key predictors were PDMP status and time. Tests for moderation examined PDMP impact by Medicare eligibility (disability versus age) and drug plan [privately provided Medicare Advantage (MAPD) versus fee-for-service (PDP)]. Findings: Overall, PDMP implementation was associated with reduced opioid volume [-2.36 kg/month, 95% confidence interval (CI) = -3.44, -1.28] and no changes in mean MMEs or opioid prescriptions 12 months after implementation compared with non-PDMP states. We found evidence of strong moderation effects. In PDMP states, estimated monthly opioid volumes decreased 1.67 kg (95% CI = -2.38, -0.96) and 0.75 kg (95% CI = -1.32, -0.18) among disabled and older adults, respectively, and 1.2 kg, regardless of plan type. MME reductions were 3.73 mg/prescription (95% CI = -6.22, -1.24) in disabled and 3.02 mg/prescription (95% CI = -3.86, -2.18) in MAPD beneficiaries, but there were no changes in older adults and PDP beneficiaries. Dispensed prescriptions increased 259/month (95% CI = 39, 479) among the disabled and decreased 610/month (95% CI = -953, -257) among MAPD beneficiaries. Conclusions: Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are associated with reductions in opioid use, measured by volume, among disabled and older adult Medicare beneficiaries in the United States compared with states that do not have PDMPs. PDMP impact on daily doses and daily prescriptions varied by reason for eligibility and plan type. These findings cannot be generalized beyond the 10 US states studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2017


  • Controlled substance monitoring
  • Drug policy
  • Drug utilization
  • Interrupted time-series
  • Medicare
  • Observational study
  • Opioid use
  • Prescription drug monitoring programs
  • Prescription opioids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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