Information for State Prescribers on the Controlled Substances Database

As part of the ongoing commitment to combat opioid abuse in the commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED), Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), and other key stakeholders are partnering to increase provider awareness of the controlled substances database (also known as the ABC-MAP Prescription Drug Monitoring Program).

Although the database is not yet operational, the following are some important details you should be aware of regarding the database related to reporting requirements, access to data, and important considerations for physicians.

Reporting Requirements

Pharmacies (including mail order and Internet pharmacies), in addition to health care practitioners who dispense scheduled II – V controlled substances, will be required to electronically report prescription dispensing information to the ABC-MAP system. When a controlled substance is dispensed, the information must be reported to the system no later than 72 hours after the controlled substance was dispensed.

Exemptions — A health care practitioner will not be required to report to ABC-MAP when he/she is a/an:

  • Licensed health care facility that distributes the controlled substance for the purpose of administration in the licensed health care facility
  • Correctional facility or its contractors if the confined person cannot lawfully visit a prescriber outside the correctional facility without being escorted by a corrections officer
  • Authorized person who administers a controlled substance, other drug, or device
  • Wholesale distributor of a controlled substance
  • Licensed provider in the Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE) program (LIFE is a managed care program that provides medical and supportive service to eligible older individuals so they can continue to live independently.)
  • Provider of hospice as defined in the act of July 19, 1979 (P.L.130, No.48), known as the Health Care Facilities Act
  • Prescriber at a licensed health care facility if the quantity of controlled substances dispensed is limited to an amount adequate to treat the patient for a maximum of five days and does not allow for a refill
  • Veterinarian

Access to Data

Pharmacists and prescribers can access the system for information regarding their own patients.

Prescribers may query the system for:

  • New and existing patients
  • Prescriptions written using the prescriber’s own Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) number

Dispensers may query the system for:

  • A current patient to whom the dispenser is dispensing or considering dispensing any controlled substance

The information being collected must be safeguarded in both its collection and distribution. By state law, the data is confidential and not subject to disclosure under the act of Feb. 14, 2008 (P.L.6, No.3), known as the Right-to-Know Law. Registration is required to obtain access. Access is restricted to approved, authorized users identified in the act of Oct. 27, 2014; Achieving Better Care By Monitoring All Prescriptions.

Why Registering for System Access Once the Database Is Up and Running Will Be Important to Your Daily Practice of Medicine

  • When access is granted, you can log on and view controlled substance prescription history for a patient. If you see a pattern of excessive use of controlled substances, you can use more caution in prescribing or dispensing to the patient.
  • The database allows prescribers to detect pharmacy errors or fraudulent use of their DEA numbers. With access to the ABC-MAP system, a prescriber can query to find out which prescriptions for controlled substances were attributed to their DEA number.
  • When preparing for new patients, practitioners with access can query for prescription information on a new patient they will be seeing at a future appointment. This allows you to check on a patients’ Schedule II – V controlled substance drug history before you see them.
  • The ABC-MAP provides an important tool to health care professionals. It is intended to serve as a means to promote and improve patient wellbeing through better coordination of care, and to reduce the risk of addiction, diversion and overdose. It is not intended to interfere with the legitimate medical use of controlled substances.

Prescriber Resources

Education on the database will be part of PAMED’s ongoing series, “Addressing Pennsylvania’s Opioid Crisis: What Health Care Teams Need to Know,” which is a collaborative project of PAMED, DOH, and 10 other health care organizations.

Session 1 of this series takes a deep dive into the state’s opioid prescribing guidelines and is available for free to members in the Opioid Abuse Resource Center at Upcoming sessions in this four-part course will focus on naloxone, the warm-hand off, and the controlled substances database.

Also available on the Opioid Abuse Resource Center are voluntary prescribing guidelines for physicians, dentists, and pharmacists; a six-part CME series on the appropriate prescribing of long-acting and extended-release opioids; prescription checklist to help talk to patients about pain management; and a booklet to help identify pill-seeking patients and refer them to the appropriate treatment.