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Dealing with "controlled" medications

As of July 2010, 34 states are reported to have on-line databases, called the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), that keep track of controlled prescription medications; however, each state assigns its own agencies to oversee this process. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recently finalized significant amendments to its PDMP regulations which will take effect on January 1, 2011.

One of the primary revisions is the expansion of the drug categories which must be monitored and reported on by pharmacies, to include Schedules II through V (which means not only narcotic prescription medications are to be tracked, but also amphetamines, benzodiazepine, and barbiturates (with few exceptions)). Pharmacies will be required to submit reports at a higher frequency and customers/patients will have to show their IDs more often for a wider range of drugs.

The reason for mentioning this development is because physicians and pharmacies will have to take extra measures to be sure that they comply with each state’s criteria. Since patients with ME/CFS or FM often use a combination of medications, often from these categories/schedules and possibly from multiple doctors, it is not unreasonable to expect that patients will be part of this equation.

Patients need to know this will take place in the not too distant future and to prepare for any changes taken by their physicians. Some patients may have already signed a ‘treatment agreement’ with a prescribing physician or clinic (often used at pain management centers) which states that they can accept prescriptions for certain medications only from this practitioner. The patient must contact this practitioner in the event of an emergency, and may be required to use only one pharmacy to fill their prescriptions as well as agree to multiple other requirements (i.e., not making any changes in how they use medication they’ve been prescribed).

These agreements (contracts) allow few exceptions or excuses (if any), so the take-away lesson is for patients to be sure they understand what they’ve agreed to and what is expected of them. It would be wise for patients to find out if or how the revised PDMP will affect them.