Less than half of Iowa doctors using Prescription Monitoring Program

DES MOINES — A national study finds opioid prescriptions are falling across the U.S. but in one-third of Iowa’s counties, those prescriptions are rising.

Kevin Gabbert heads Iowa’s State Opioid Treatment Authority. He says state officials are trying to get more physicians to use the Prescription Monitoring Program or PMP, which can help prevent patients from getting opioids they don’t need.

“We have about a 42 percent registration rate among physicians with the PMP,” Gabbert says, “but that doesn’t mean that all 42 percent of those are actually using the PMP.” The study from the Centers for Disease Control covered the years 2010 to 2015. The CDC encourages doctors to consider nonopioid methods for treating pain because prescription opioids are associated with increasing abuse and overdose rates.

Gabbert says prescriptions are declining in states that have seen the highest rates of abuse and overdose deaths. “They’ve had more of a significant issue in those areas with prescription opioids and have made some of those changes, some of those changes that Iowa is considering now,” he says. “I think once we see some of those changes made, those numbers will go down as well.” Gabbert says state officials are trying to raise awareness among doctors and patients to reduce prescription opioid use.

Some states require healthcare providers to use the PMP. Gabbert says Iowa officials are making changes to the system to make it more accessible for doctors.

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