State audit finds Colorado’s prescription drug monitoring application failed to continue to keep track of opioid use | Legislature

The state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has not performed its occupation in placing the correct techniques in place to curtail drug abuse, opioid use in individual, state auditors told the Legislative Audit Committee on Monday.

The audit in depth failures in adhering to conventional tactics and in enforcement, which have led to the software not working as effectively as legislative statutes require, and it known as for lawmakers to place extra procedures in spot.

Virtually every single state has a very similar system, in accordance to auditors, and they are believed to be an helpful point out-level tool to handle opioid abuse, misuse and overdoses, mainly for the reason that of their ability to restrict “health care provider browsing,” outlined by federal agencies as when a affected person visits various prescribers to acquire opioids.

Deputy state auditor Michelle Colin instructed the committee that below a 2014 condition regulation, pharmacists ended up needed to post knowledge on all dispensed controlled substances to the PDMP databases, and prescribers and pharmacists are supposed to look at the database to assist keep an eye on prescription drug use and seem for indications of physician browsing.

That is not taking place more than enough, and there are apparently no penalties for failing to do so, according to the audit.

Fatalities from opioid abuse have virtually quadrupled due to the fact 2000, when there have been 2 deaths for every 100,000 people in 2019 that had greater to 7.5 deaths per 100,000, in accordance to the audit. That’s the definition of an opioid crisis, in accordance to audit supervisor Jenny Site. Opioid fatalities outpace fatalities from heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.






Drug overdose deaths between 2000 and 2019, courtesy Office of the Point out Auditor and the Colorado Section of Public Overall health and Ecosystem.


The audit report famous that the database presents prescribers and pharmacists monthly alerts to tell when a affected person has been at chance for health care provider procuring, and alerts were sent out on 345 clients in 2019.  

Main amid the audit’s findings: PDMP information in 2018 and 2019 confirmed 8,700 sufferers in Colorado experienced prescription histories that indicated they have been physician purchasing for opioids evidence confirmed that some went to 10 or more prescribers and 1,200 patients went to 15 or extra prescribers.






Doctor shopping

Physician buying habits, as indicated in audit report on the state’s Prescription Drug Checking Program, which is intended to assist avert this sort of behavior.


The information confirmed some people having a new opioid prescription every five days, audit staff chief Kate Shiroff explained to the committee. Other details showed some patients receiving prescriptions for mixtures of drugs that could be dangerous if applied alongside one another, these types of as opioids and benzodiazepine (which can go by the manufacturer name of Valium or Xanax).

But the state’s Division of Regulatory Agencies, which manages the PDMP, did not refer individuals patients to legislation enforcement, the audit reported. The point out does not use the databases to deal with overprescribing, despite proof that 85 health-related experts experienced approved opioids far more than 3,000 occasions in 2018 and 2019, 26 times the ordinary. Most of the prescribers ended up in spouse and children medication, inside medication, with the most from nurse practitioners.

“With out a court order or subpoena, the Section does not provide regulatory boards or regulation enforcement any details from the PDMP databases that would allow them to investigate most likely unlawful habits by prescribers or people,” the audit explained. “Furnishing this sort of facts to regulatory boards and legislation enforcement would assist them satisfy the statutory intent of figuring out healthcare vendors whose prescribing patterns fall considerably outside the house of the norms for their specialty or individuals who look to be doctor purchasing.”

Shiroff included that regulation enforcement has to have an active investigation and a subpoena to glance at an individual in the PDMP.

Other audit findings confirmed that 18%, or 6,223, of the state’s 34,679 prescribers did not register with the PDMP database as necessary by regulation. The PDMP also does not observe whether prescribers verify the databases in advance of issuing a 2nd opioid prescription to a client, as statutes involve, “so it is unclear irrespective of whether prescribers comply.” That could represent unprofessional carry out, Shiroff claimed.

She also pointed out that DORA has no system for ensuring that prescribers sign up and has experienced a “palms-off” see of the PDMP registration method. Registration could turn out to be a problem for a new or renewal of a license, Shiroff stated.

The audit documented “1,427 unregistered prescribers who prescribed 15,822 opioid prescriptions to much more than 8,800 clients in 2018 or 2019 immediately after a different prescriber had by now prescribed a benzodiazepine for the client.”

A grievance from prescribers regarded the utility of the databases, with reviews that it usually takes way too extensive to query the database, occasionally as numerous as 30 mouse clicks. The audit said DORA has not addressed this criticism.

The PDMP is merely a healthcare resource and not a way to establish poor actors, either prescribers or patients, Shiroff informed the committee. Working with the PDMP as a way to test for a 2nd opioid prescription has led to fewer opioid fatalities in other states. Shiroff stated the Facilities for Condition Regulate and Avoidance sights Colorado’s PDMP as insufficient in this place.

The audit also elevated troubles encompassing “tablet mills,” the phrase used when prescribers present more opioids than patients will need and is believed to gasoline the illicit drug trade. In a review of 6.7 million prescriptions, about 28,000 exceeded the statutory restriction of seven times for a very first prescription, the audit identified more than 800 patients gained prescriptions that furnished sufficient for six to 18 months.

The Typical Assembly requires to phase in and take motion, the audit report reported. That would consist of a legal necessity that a prescriber verify the databases ahead of issuing any opioid or benzodiazepine prescription, and to set tooth into present law that necessitates pharmacists and medical doctors to sign-up with the PDMP and use it ahead of issuing prescriptions. Statutory adjust also is desired to implement limits on opioid prescriptions, the audit report stated, and an enforcement mechanism is essential for all those who refuse to comply, which includes referrals to regulation enforcement or regulatory boards.

DORA agreed with the audit results, in accordance to the report. Ronne Hines, director of the division of professions and occupations, claimed they are committed to increasing the program as effectively as to patient confidentiality. They will function with the legislature on each individual of the spots, Hines informed the committee, incorporating that the legislature also manufactured progress on dealing with opioids in the most not long ago concluded session.

“We are committed to revisiting existing criteria” centered on current statutory authority, she said. 

Hines also claimed that DORA is committed to seeking at the challenge of complaints close to accessibility to the databases. 

Lawmakers were significantly from glad with what they listened to from the auditors, mostly all-around the lack of enforcement for prescribers.

Sen. Jim Smallwood, a Parker Republican, mentioned what stood out for him was that prescribers did not sign up. Now that the database has determined people today violating statutes, he asked, where’s the enforcement? Hines responded that it is up to the regulatory boards on whether or not there was a violation, but that in the long run, it’s the boards’ conclusions, and she did not have details on results. He known as the a person out of five who are not registering a “blatant” disregard for the statute.

Have prescribers been operating and prescribing opioids and accomplishing so out of compliance with point out legislation for the life span of the software, which dates back to 2008, asked Rep. Colin Larson, a Littleton Republican. Shiroff said it’s a blended bag some have been unregistered for a extensive time, other folks for shorter periods of time, she reported.

Hines said the need to sign-up has only existed since 2014. Shiroff included that there is no enforcement from the regulatory boards and no penalties for not registering with the PDMP. The dental board has a fantastic for not registering, but has by no means in fact at any time fined everyone for not carrying out so, she said. Fifteen p.c of the clinical professionals, or about 930, who unsuccessful to register are dentists.

Hines explained they are fully commited to operating with the regulatory boards to make sure that prescribers sign-up. That consists of an automatic procedure which must be in spot by 2023 that would make sure that prescribers sign up when they renew (every two many years) or receive a new license. Currently, prescribers self report and DORA would not verify, according to the audit. Which is not before long adequate, Smallwood mentioned. The PDMP is not valuable, he claimed, and it’s crystal clear it really is not handy since no 1 is shelling out consideration. He identified as for concrete steps immediately (contacting it “yesterday.”)

The professional medical specialist boards have taken this severely, Hines insisted. She explained she would also search at the on line renewal technique.


Condition audit of prescription drug monitoring program