By Mark Trudeau
With the Missouri legislative session entering its final week, now is the time to make a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) in Missouri a reality. The recent passage of legislation in the Missouri House of Representatives to create a PDMP is a critical and long-overdue step in combating opioid abuse in Missouri — and the rest of the nation. While we commend the Missouri House, all eyes are now turned to the Senate, where historically this effort has been more difficult.
Our company — Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals — was founded in St. Louis nearly 150 years ago. Today, we are one of the largest suppliers of controlled substance medications in the United States, and we are dedicated to providing safe and effective medications to treat patients with pain. We also are equally committed to working with patient groups, policymakers, law enforcement and industry to address the complex issues of opioid addiction and abuse. That is why we have joined the more than 40 other Missouri organizations that are calling for an effective state PDMP.
Missouri is the only state without such a program. A PDMP can support prescribers and help prevent abuse by providing timely data for the treatment of patients. These programs help identify illicit activities such as visits to multiple doctors for multiple, duplicate prescriptions, something called “doctor shopping.” Evidence shows that PDMPs also lead to better health outcomes, shorten the time needed to conduct law enforcement investigations, and lower overall abuse and diversion rates. At the same time, we welcome the robust debate about patient and provider privacy, and we support the efforts of legislative leaders who are seeking to apply the best privacy practices from other states to include robust and reasonable privacy protections in the PDMP legislation that we hope is finally signed into law in Missouri.
While our focus today is on Missouri, we can do more nationally as well. We support proposals to improve the integration of federal and state PDMPs, while also increasing cooperation among states, because abusers often travel across state lines to secure greater quantities of prescription drugs, including opioids. And Mallinckrodt supports modifying PDMPs to make data consistently available in real time to pharmacies and prescribers in a way that is easy to use.
Prescription drug abuse is a complex and confounding problem, and no one policy initiative or program will solve it. Any solution will require a comprehensive approach that includes supporting and investing in the development of tamper-resistant and abuse-deterrent technologies; developing and sharing best practices in suspicious order monitoring both at the manufacturing and supply chain stage — an area in which Mallinckrodt is an industry leader; improving stakeholder education for patients, providers and the public, including initiatives validated by measurable outcomes; and enhancing drug take-back and addiction rehabilitation programs.
But today, without further delay, Missouri needs a PMDP as an important tool for fighting opioid misuse and abuse. We stand ready to help support those efforts.
Mark Trudeau is president and chief executive officer of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company based in St. Louis. This op-ed appeared in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on May 15, 2015.