Mapping Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Enrollment and Use

State-by-state data show prescriber utilization patterns 

Mapping Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Enrollment and Use

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are state-run electronic databases that collect information on controlled substances dispensed to patients. They are intended to help health care providers safely prescribe and monitor the use of certain drugs, including opioid pain relievers. Specifically, they seek to reduce “multiple provider episodes” (when patients visit numerous health care providers to obtain the same or similar drugs), inappropriate prescribing, prescription opioid misuse, and overdose deaths.

Experts identify prescriber enrollment and frequency of use as two key metrics to consider when evaluating PDMP utilization. Pew surveyed administrators of all operational PDMPs to obtain total enrollment of in-state prescribers to the PDMP as of December 2014, and total queries to the PDMP by prescribers and prescriber delegates for the full year. Rates of enrollment and utilization were then calculated using December 2014 data from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Registrant Population by State and Business Activity database. This research presents a snapshot of prescriber enrollment and use across states’ PDMPs.

This analysis was updated Sept. 6, 2016, to explain how enrollment and utilization rates were calculated.


Prescriber enrollment: This measure indicates the percentage of prescribers who are enrolled to use the PDMP as a component of all DEA-registered prescribers in the state. In most states, a prescriber must have a DEA registration authorizing them to prescribe controlled substances in order to enroll to use the PDMP. The measure, therefore, enables comparisons between states regarding enrollment by the controlled substance prescriber community in each state. However, differences may, in part, reflect variability in methods used by states to calculate enrollment rates.

Prescriber use: This is a measure of prescriber and delegate utilization based on the number of user queries per enrolled in-state prescribers. The measure, therefore, enables comparisons between states with different levels of PDMP enrollment. However, differences may, in part, reflect variability in methods used by states to calculate rates of use.

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