PharmaNet system dramatically reduced inappropriate prescriptions of potentially addictive drugs

A centralized prescription network providing real-time information to pharmacists in British Columbia, Canada, resulted in dramatic reductions in inappropriate prescriptions for opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines, widely used and potentially addictive drugs. The findings are reported in a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

The study found that PharmaNet, a real-time prescription system implemented in BC pharmacies in July 1995, reduced potentially inappropriate prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepines in two groups of patients—those on social assistance and seniors. The reductions ranged from about one-third (33%) to one-half (49%) depending on the drug and patient group.

"Our study demonstrates that a system like PharmaNet can help reduce the potentially inappropriate prescribing of medications that are prone to misuse," said lead author Colin Dormuth of the Therapeutics Initiative at the University of British Columbia. "In the five-year period of our study, the reduction in inappropriate refills was dramatic and sustained after the implementation of PharmaNet."

The PharmaNet system allows BC pharmacists to view the most recent 14 months of a patient's medication use regardless of which physician prescribed the drugs or which pharmacy dispensed them. The system enables pharmacists to identify potentially harmful drug interactions, accidental duplications in therapy or potential prescription .

Researchers tracked "potentially inappropriate" prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepines in BC, defined as a second prescription for the same drug issued by a different doctor and a different pharmacy within 7 days of a previous prescription for at least 30 tablets.

Benzodiazepines and are that are prone to misuse and addiction in some patients. Benzodiazepines include sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs such as diazepam, lorazepam and others, whereas are taken for pain relief and include morphine, codeine, oxycodone and other drugs.

Most provinces have now adopted either a system allowing the to view a patient's up-to-date medication history at the time of dispensing a medication or a real-time monitoring program specifically aimed at monitoring prescription drugs prone to misuse. Ontario adopted the latter approach in establishing its Narcotics Monitoring System earlier this year.

"Centralized drug information systems and monitoring programs are critical to help ensure these medications are used appropriately," observes coauthor David Juurlink, Head of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and a scientist at the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

The study covered the period from Jan. 1, 1993 to Dec. 31, 1997—the 5-year period flanking the program's implementation. Because comprehensive data was available for people aged 65 years and over and patients receiving social assistance, the study focused on these two groups of patients.

More information: www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.120465

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Opioids linked to higher risk of pneumonia in older adults

Sep 22, 2011

Opioids -- a class of medicines commonly given for pain -- were associated with a higher risk of pneumonia in a study of 3,061 adults, aged 65 to 94, e-published in advance of publication in the Journal of the American Ge ...

Recommended for you

Determine patient preferences by means of conjoint analysis

1 hour ago

The Conjoint Analysis (CA) method is in principle suitable to find out which preferences patients have regarding treatment goals. However, to widely use it in health economic evaluations, some (primarily methodological) issues ...

FDA approves hard-to-abuse narcotic painkiller

Jul 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—A new formulation of a powerful narcotic painkiller that discourages potential abusers from snorting or injecting the drug has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Race affects opioid selection for cancer pain

Jul 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—Racial disparities exist in the type of opioid prescribed for cancer pain, according to a study published online July 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

FDA approves tough-to-abuse formulation of oxycodone

Jul 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—Targiniq ER (oxycodone hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride extended release) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a long-term, around-the-clock treatment for severe ...

Tough-to-abuse formulation of oxycodone approved

Jul 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—Targiniq ER (oxycodone hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride extended release) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a long-term, around-the-clock treatment for severe pain when other ...

User comments