Prescription Monitoring Program – FAQ

Massachusetts Online Prescription Monitoring Program Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Massachusetts Online Prescription Monitoring  Program?

 The Massachusetts Online Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) is a secure website hosted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The PMP is a database for a patient’s prescription history for controlled substance prescription medications. The PMP shows a patient’s prescription history for the prior 12 months. Data is reported into the PMP by all Massachusetts pharmacies and by out-of-state pharmacies delivering to people who live in Massachusetts.

 Why is the Prescription Monitoring Program Important?

 Controlled substance medications can play an important role in a patient’s medical treatment and care. When not properly prescribed, however, they can lead to patient harm from duplicate drug therapy, prescription drug misuse or abuse, and illegal use.

Having this information available to prescribers before they prescribe a controlled substance prescription helps them to make the best possible clinical decision for their patient.

 Who is (the) allowed to use the Prescription Monitoring Program  (Important)*?

 Physicians, dentists and podiatrists have been automatically enrolled in the PMP since January 1, 2013. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Drug Control Program (DCP) automatically enrolls these providers when they obtain a new Massachusetts Controlled Substance Registration (MCSR) or have their existing MCSR recalled (renewed).

Beginning on January 1, 2015, the Drug Control Program began automatically enrolling nurse practitioners and physician assistants as participants in the PMP. This will be done when they obtain a new MCSR or renew their MCSR.

Physicians, dentists, and podiatrists also can now grant access to the PMP to users under their direct supervision, such as a registered nurse or medical assistant working in their office.  Known as delegates, these individuals will be enrolled in the PMP and have access to view a patient’s controlled substance prescription history.

Though voluntary, pharmacists may also enroll in the PMP.

*this question contains errors in syntax as issued by the DPH  

 When does my physician have to use the  PMP?

 A registered individual practitioner (physician, dentist, podiatrist, nurse practitioner, physician assistant) must utilize the PMP, prior to prescribing a narcotic prescription drug in Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Schedule II or III, or a prescription drug containing a benzodiazepine, to a patient for the first time.

“First time” refers to patients who have not received a narcotic prescription drug in Schedule II or III, or a drug containing a benzodiazepine, from another authorized prescriber within the previous 12 months.

Medications considered Schedule II or III are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to psychological or physical dependence.

Benzodiazepines are a broad class of medications commonly referred to as tranquilizers.

Authorized prescribers are, however, encouraged to utilize the PMP each time they are prescribing a controlled substance prescription to a patient.

 Where is the PMP and how do I access it  PMP?

 The Massachusetts Online Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) is a website hosted by what’s known as the Virtual Gateway – the. The Virtual Gateway is the secure web portal of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS).

To access this system, you need to obtain a user name and password to login into the Virtual Gateway and you need to be granted access to the PMP.

This process begins when the prescriber completes an application for enrollment into the PMP and sends it to the DPH Drug Control Program for processing.

Because the PMP is a web-based application, you can access it from any computer.

How is the information in the PMP  used?

 To guarantee patient confidentiality and ensure absolute privacy of patient health information, the PMP operates exclusively on a secure web portal and requires nothing more than the entry of basic patient demographic information (name, date of birth, gender, and address). Additional information such as prescriber name, name of the medication, directions for use, and quantity to be dispensed are also required.

PMP data about a patient’s controlled substance prescription history is viewable by the prescriber at the time he or she is considering prescribing a controlled substance medication to that patient. Prescribers will also receive automatic electronic notifications advising them of concerns in their prescribing.

This information is also available to select DCP staff to help develop statistical reports such as the number of prescriptions prescribed for a certain medication. These reports contain no patient specific information (i.e. patient name, address).

Select DCP staff also develops analyses for Department of Public Health such as comparing the number of controlled substance prescriptions prescribed in each county in Massachusetts each year or comparing the total number of controlled substance prescriptions prescribed from one year to the next. Again, these analyses contain no specific patient information.

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