Dr. Chris Delcher, a 2014 graduate of the University of Florida doctorate of epidemiology program in the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine, is part of a UF team that has partnered with Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to analyze new developments and examine the effectiveness of the state monitoring entity.
[Photo: Dr. Chris Delcher]
Due to various factors, the number of deaths from prescription pain relievers in Florida has fallen from a high of 2,710 overdose deaths in 2010 to 1,916 deaths in 2013, the lowest number since 2003. In addition, from 2012 to 2013, there was an 8.3 percent decrease in the number of deaths caused by one or more controlled substance prescriptions in Florida as well as a 53 percent reduction in the number of patients engaged in “doctor shopping,” a practice some patients employ to gain access to additional prescriptions. The statistics are promising, but new trends continue to emerge and UF College of Medicine researchers say it’s crucial to monitor them.
The research team believes that one of the reasons for these declines is the increase in the number of health care providers using the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Signed into law in 2009, Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program monitors individuals’ controlled substance prescriptions and provides important and up-to-date data regarding prescribing trends in Florida.
“UF is working side-by-side with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to detect new trends and inform a multidisciplinary team to effectively prevent prescription drug abuse, which can in turn decrease overdoses and deaths,” said Dr. Delcher, an assistant professor in the department of health outcomes and policy at the UF College of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the project. “In addition, we hope to launch several new initiatives that will improve registered health care providers’ ability to retrieve useful information from the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.”