State Seeks Best Practices in Creating Controlled Substances Database

On May 20, 2015, Karen Murphy, PhD, the state Secretary of Health, convened the second meeting of the ABC-MAP board, the group of cabinet-level officials who will oversee the state’s new controlled substances database.  Chaired by Secretary Murphy, the board also includes the Secretaries of Human Services, Drug and Alcohol Programs, State, Aging, the Insurance Commissioner, the State Police Commissioner, the Attorney General, and the Physician General.

The primary purpose of the meeting was to hear from national experts Brandon Maughan, MD, and Marcus Bachhuber, MD, who are members of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars program in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, regarding operational best practices of prescription drug monitoring programs that are already operating across the country.

In October 2014, then-Gov. Corbett signed a law that will give Pennsylvania physicians access to a statewide controlled substances database. The legislation is intended to give them better knowledge of prescriptions written for and filled by a patient, with the goal of reducing opioid abuse and identifying scammers.

The measure also calls for the creation of an advisory panel of subject matter experts, for which PAMED submitted recommendations, to advise the ABC-MAP Board in developing the program and carrying out its duties. Secretary Murphy indicated that the advisory panel has not yet been created.

State officials have indicated that the database is unlikely to be up and running by June 30, 2015, the kickoff date established by the law, due to funding concerns and logistical challenges.  During the meeting, Secretary Murphy stated that she expects funding for the program to be included in the upcoming fiscal year budget, which begins in July.  Gov. Wolf has included $2.1 million in his proposed 2015-2016 budget to run the program.