After 10 months of sending unsolicited notices to about 2,400 health care providers alerting them of patients who might be “doctor shopping,” the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy found that 88% percent of these patients dropped off the alert list within one month after their prescribers were notified. The Board used the state’s prescription monitoring program (PMP) database to identify approximately 194 patients who had been prescribed controlled substances by multiple doctors and had filled those prescriptions at multiple pharmacies. According to a survey of providers, conducted by the Minnesota PMP staff, some of the patients who were dropped off the list after the alerts were sent had their medication dosages modified or were referred to treatment. Additionally, the state’s Medicaid and MinnesotaCare programs can use PMP data to help ensure that patients are getting the care they need, which may require them to go through one primary care physician, one hospital, and one pharmacy.
In Minnesota, prescribers are not required to consult the PMP before writing a prescription for a controlled substance. The Board is advocating for a law requiring prescribers to register with the PMP so that they have access to the database when they need it, said Cody Wiberg, PharmD, MS, RPh, executive director of the Board.