Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP)

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Since March 29, 2009, the Iowa Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) has provided prescribers and pharmacists information regarding patients’ use of controlled substances. The PMP is designed to help prescribers evaluate and monitor controlled substance medication use and treatment outcomes of their patients. The intent of the PMP is to lead to more appropriate prescribing, a decrease in patient abuse of controlled substances, a decrease in controlled substance dependence, and a decrease in the diversion of these substances for illicit use.

Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Some prescription opioids are made from the plant directly and others are made by scientists in labs using the same chemical structure. Opioids are often used as medicines because they contain chemicals that relax the body and can relieve pain. Prescription opioids are used mostly to treat moderate to severe pain, though some opioids can be used to treat coughing and diarrhea.

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs primarily used to treat anxiety, but are also effective in treating several other conditions. It is not known exactly how benzodiazepines work, but they appear to affect neurotransmitters in the brain, chemicals that nerves release in order to communicate with other nearby nerves.

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy administers the Iowa PMP with the assistance and guidance of an advisory council. The PMP Advisory Council consists of four physicians, three pharmacists, and one non-physician prescriber, and all are appointed by the Governor.

The PMP Advisory Council meets as needed to review the progress of the Iowa PMP; the benefits and costs of maintaining the Iowa PMP; possible enhancements to the program; and information, comments and suggestions received from program users and the public. The PMP Advisory Council also reviews statistics regarding the use of the Iowa PMP by prescribers, pharmacists and regulatory agencies; the number of controlled substance prescriptions filled each year; the top drugs dispensed in Iowa each year; and markers indicating possible excessive pharmacy- or doctor-shopping for controlled substances.

Since January 2019, the Iowa PMP distributes quarterly activity reports to all prescribers who are registered with the program and have prescribed at least one controlled substance during the previous review period.

The PMP also sends out proactive or “threshold” notifications to prescribers and pharmacies alerting them when one of their patients receives multiple controlled substance prescriptions from multiple providers and multiple pharmacies.

Additional information about the Iowa PMP can be found at: https://pharmacy.iowa.gov.