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What is a PDMP and Why are They Necessary?

April 29, 2020

When doctors have access to a broader view of a person’s health, they’re better able to deliver informed care that addresses the “whole” patient. The ability for providers to share comprehensive patient information digitally is an important tool for improving health outcomes. While Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) were originally intended to help prevent opioid abuse and overprescribing, they also enable physicians to provide more integrated care. (In some states, PDMPs are known as Prescription Monitoring Programs, or PMPs.)

PDMPs are state-based electronic databases of controlled substances dispensed to patients from different providers in their state. By accessing the PDMP, prescribers are able to view a patient’s past and current medication history. 

A brief history

PDMPs have been around for more than a century. However, the first electronic transmission to a state from a pharmacy occurred in Oklahoma in 1990. Then in 1995, Nevada became the first state to require a PDMP to collect data for Schedules II through V controlled substances. States continued to add PDMPs, and in 2020, 49 states, D.C., and Guam have operational PDMPs. 

How PDMPs work

When a pharmacist fills a prescription for a controlled substance, they enter information into the state PDMP. Time requirements for data entry vary by states, but the goal is for pharmacists to enter this information in real time so it’s immediately available for prescribers.

Then when a physician prescribes certain controlled substances, he or she reviews patient information in their state PDMP. This helps the physician identify patients who are receiving:

  • Opioids and controlled substances from multiple providers and/or pharmacies
  • Other substances that may increase the risk of opioids, for example, benzodiazepines
  • Medications that might cause a harmful interactions

With this information, physicians can avoid prescribing medications that may lead to adverse drug effects (including addiction and accidental overdose). It also gives them the ability to check for possible medication misuse or “doctor shopping.” 

PDMPs are state-based, so providers may need to be licensed in multiple PDMPs to see the “full” patient story. For example, a patient in Washington, D.C. may use a pharmacy or doctor in nearby Virginia or Maryland. Check with your state’s health department for complete information.

Where PDMPs are required 

Most states have mandated the use of PDMPs as shown in this map.

Registering for a PDMP

Each state has their own process for obtaining access to their PDMP and not all allow registration for multiple states. Contact your state’s health department for more information. 


RXNT offers direct access to state PDMP through a connection with Appriss Health. RXNT is one of the few companies offering this feature. It’s conveniently integrated into RXNT’s Electronic Health Records (EHR), Electronic Prescribing (eRx), and Full Suite solutions—so there’s no interruption to a provider’s workflow.

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Since 1999, we have provided integrated, cloud-based Electronic Prescribing (eRx), Electronic Health Records (EHR) with patient portal, and Practice Management (PM) with medical billing and scheduling.

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