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History of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2018
7 pages
This report presents an overview of the history of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), from the establishment of the first PDMP through PDMPs in the first decades of the 21st century, with attention to their evolving purposes. features, and effectiveness.
In 1918, New York State became concerned about a growing drug problem; drugs such as heroin and cocaine were allowed under federal and state laws to be prescribed by doctors and dispensed in pharmacies. One provision of New York's PDMP law required a doctor who prescribed a certain quantity of heroin, cocaine, morphine, opium, or codeine to use "serially numbered official prescription blanks" issued by the state health department. A pharmacy was then required to send a copy of the prescription to the health department within 25 hours of dispensing the drug. New York's PDMP laws remained in effect for 3 years until rescinded; however, the blueprint remained for what years later would become known as prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). The rationale, features, and effectiveness of early PDMPs (1939-1989) are described followed by a discussion of their use of official prescription forms. Also discussed is the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Whalen, 1977, which held that New York State had the authority to collect prescription drug information as part of its "police powers." The first decade of the 21st century saw the largest number of states implementing PDMPs. Studies provide proof of the impact PDMPs have had in curtailing the diversion and abuse of specified prescription drugs.