Changes to Georgia’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Await Governor’s Signature

During the 2017-2018 Georgia General Assembly legislative session, the House and Senate voted to approve HB249, a bill that would make several changes to the Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). HB249 was sent to the governor on April 7, 2017. The bill would shift administration of the PDMP from the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency (GDNA) to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and would impose several new requirements on prescribers.

The PDMP was established to electronically record prescription information resulting from the dispensing of Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substances and to provide a means for the electronic review of prescription information entered into the database. The electronic recording and review of such information would, in turn, assist the reduction of the abuse of controlled substances; improve, enhance, and encourage a better quality of health care by promoting the proper use of medications to treat pain and terminal illness; reduce duplicative prescribing and overprescribing of controlled substances; and help gather data for epidemiological research.

HB249 requires that each person licensed, registered, or otherwise authorized to prescribe a controlled substance in the course of professional practice or research in Georgia enroll to become a user of the PDMP as soon as possible, but no later than January 1, 2018. Prescribers who attain a DEA registration number after that date should enroll within 30 days of attaining such credentials. In addition, under the PDMP, dispensers are responsible for submitting information regarding prescriptions dispensed for Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substances by electronic means. Prior to HB249, this information was required to be submitted on at least a weekly basis and reported, at a minimum, no later than ten days after the prescription was dispensed. Under HB249, however, dispensers must submit the prescription information at least every 24 hours.

HB249 also requires prescribers who issue prescriptions for opioids (including opiates, opioids, opioid analgesics, and opioid derivatives) to provide the patient, either verbally or in writing, information on options available for safely disposing of any unused opioids where such options exist. The bill also requires prescribers to seek and review information from the PDMP the first time the prescriber issues a prescription for certain enumerated controlled substances and thereafter at least once every 90 days. This requirement would go into effect on or after July 1, 2018 and is not applicable if: (a) the prescription is for no more than a 3 day supply and no more than 26 pills; or (b) if the patient is in a hospital or health care facility that provides patient care and prescriptions to be administered and used by a patient on the premises of the facility (e.g., a nursing home, intermediate care facility, personal care home, or hospice). The requirement is also inapplicable for patients who have had outpatient surgery at a hospital or ambulatory surgical center, if the prescription is for no more than a 10 day supply and no more than 40 pills, or the patient is terminally ill, under the supervised care of an outpatient hospice program, or receiving treatment for cancer. Prescribers who review prescription information from the PDMP are required to make a notation in the patient’s medical record stating the date and time upon which the inquiry was made and the name of the individual completing the search.