Senator Dan Coats

Coats, Blumenthal Introduce Bill to Expand Access to Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced a bill that would encourage states to allow physician assistants and nurse practitioners to access state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) to reduce drug abuse.

“Opioid abuse is a nationwide epidemic,” said Coats. “Indiana has already taken steps to ensure that anyone writing opioid prescriptions in our state has access to Indiana’s prescription drug monitoring program, not just doctors. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are also on the front lines of this crisis, and we must arm them with the data they need to make informed decisions about their patients’ needs and public health.”

“Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are on the front lines in fighting the scourges of addiction and overdose, but in many states they are not fully empowered to succeed,” said Blumenthal. “Unfortunately, even though these men and women wrote more than seven million opioid prescriptions in 2013, few states allow them to consult and submit prescribing data to controlled substance monitoring programs. This bipartisan bill would close that gap, ensuring that the people who prescribe medications can spot signs of abuse, addiction and illegal activity.”

PDMPs are online patient databases that allow health care practitioners, pharmacists and law enforcement to track controlled substances prescriptions written for patients, allowing them to determine if a patient is abusing opioids. Under the proposed legislation, states would continue to retain full control over which health care professionals hold prescribing authority.

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