Columbia female patients prescribed more drugs than state average

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COLUMBIA- The fairly new Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in Missouri shows Columbia residents, especially female patients, are prescribed more controlled substances than the current state average.

The program, based out of St. Louis and working in conjunction with St. Louis' Department of Public Health, released data today from the months of April to June of 2017. 

According to their findings, Columbia female patients are prescribed 1803.4 prescriptions per 1000 people, which is "significantly" higher compared to 1402.6 prescriptions per 1000 people for the state.

The trend is even more drastic when divided by both age and sex. The age group with the most overall prescriptions, 55-64, shows Columbia female patients are prescribed drugs at a rate of 4290.6 per 1000 people for the state. The state average for the same age group is 2691.9 per 1000 people. Female patients across the board are prescribed more controlled substances at all age groups except minors.

Across all age groups, opioids are the most prescribed type of drug. Female patients still top out the charts with 750.2 prescriptions per 1000 people, compared the state total of 642.5 prescriptions per 1000 people.

Bill Morrissey, pharmacist and partner with Kilgore's Medical Pharmacy, said these statistics surprised him, but that they aren't necessarily reason to worry yet.

"I think there's a slight trend in there, I think it's too early to maybe judge that though," Morrissey said.

Morrissey said the reason female patients top the charts can be explained easily, but why Columbia's are higher than the state average isn't as clear.

"Females are more likely to ask for help, and some studies that maybe show prescribers are more apt to prescribe for a female in pain than a male," Morrissey said.

As a whole, Columbia ranked fifth out of 14 jurisdictions for significantly higher controlled substance prescriptions than the state total. Lincoln County ranked first.

Mayor Brian Treece wanted Columbia to lead the way in drug monitoring when the program was announced, and he made sure Columbia was one of the first 14 jurisdictions involved with it. He was motivated by personal first-hand accounts from Columbians who have been affected in one way or another by controlled substance abuse.

"I've talked to grieving parents who have lost a son or daughter because of an overdose, I've talked to doctors who've had their prescription pads stolen for illegitimate prescriptions, I've talked to parents who had a son go in for a wisdom tooth extraction and come out addicted to painkillers," Treece said.

According to Treece, there have been 43 overdoses in Boone County and 758 emergency room admissions because of opioid abuse, misuse or overdose.

"Opioid abuse is a national emergency, it's a state wide crisis, and it's a local epidemic," Treece said.

PDMP launched in April of 2017 with 14 jurisdictions participating. As of September 30, 48 jurisdictions are involved with the program, covering 71 percent of Missouri's population and 88 percent of health care providers. In Columbia 100 percent of pharmacies are compliant with the program. Although only 10 percent of all physicians are enrolled across the state, the goal is for 35 to 38 percent.

"It's designed to prevent that abuse on the front end, so that regulators, pharmacists can identify potential drug shopping, potential misuse of opioids or maybe duplicate prescriptions," Treece said.

Users of the program self-register to access its information, and are divided into three categories:

  1. Authorized users with full access to the PDMP, which include healthcare providers, doctors, dentists, and pharmacists
  2. Authorized users with restricted or limited access to the PDMP, which include state regulatory boards, law enforcement and judges
  3. Authorized users with ability to request PDMP data but lacking direct access, which include any persons wanting to know their own dispensation records

There are currently 4159 approved users, with pharmacists and physicians making up over 75 percent.

The programs goals are to improve controlled substance prescribing, inform clinical practice of high risk patients and reduce the number of people who misuse, abuse or overdose those substances.