Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in Georgia

Currently 39 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Guam (a U.S. territory) report operation of a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, or PDMP. The program is being utilized to collect, monitor, and analyze all of the data regarding both practitioner authorized prescriptions and the medications dispensed by pharmacies.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Database

The Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has a statewide electronic database that keeps track of prescriptions being filled, who is writing the prescriptions, who is filling similar prescriptions from multiple doctors, or which doctors appear to be prescribing scheduled drugs for diagnoses that do not support use of that medication, as examples.

Purpose of Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

The PDMP’s purpose under Georgia law is to assist in the reduction of controlled substance abuse, promoting the proper use of Schedule II, III, IV, and V medications, reducing “doctor shopping” where duplicate prescribing and overprescribing of controlled Schedule drugs will be tracked. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in Georgia was signed into law in 2012 and was established through the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency.

“The Georgia prescription drug monitoring program database has been very helpful to my practice,” Dr. Hege says. “I look up potential patients if we have any concerns about whether they are abusing prescription medications. If they are being prescribed medicines like Xanax, Adderall, suboxone, methadone, or other controlled medications in high doses or from multiple doctors, I decline them.”

Access to the Georgia PDMP

Access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is restricted to those professionals who register on the site and to dispensing pharmacies. In addition access to the data bank may also accessible in certain situations by:

  • Licensing and Regulatory Boards for investigations of health professionals who prescribe or dispense Schedule II – V prescription medications
  • Law Enforcement agencies for drug investigations (court orders may be required)
  • State Medicaid programs for member and provider reviews
  • State medical examiners for cause of death assessments
  • Research organizations for data analysis and research

Psychiatrist using PDMP

Dr. Darvin Hege uses the Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database as part of his practice. He has a secure restricted access to track every prescription of a controlled drug that he prescribes. In the development of a successful treatment program for his patients he has access to verify his patients are taking their medications as prescribed if concerns develop.

“If I have concerns about my ongoing patients, I look them up on the program website,” Dr. Hege says. “If my concerns are substantiated about their abuse, I stop writing these prescriptions for them and recommend more intensive substance abuse treatment. However, seldom do they ever accept my recommendations for help. Usually when confronted, they are not at that stage of being ready for help and the feelings about being caught create such defensive reactions that the relationship is not salvageable.”

“When I start patients on abusable medications, I always warn them about these risks. I am especially proactive with patients I start on Adderall, including telling them about this monitoring system to discourage them from ever starting to overuse it. We have many very effective and wonderful medications but these risks need to be faced with the patient before they take their first pill.”

About Darvin Hege

Dr. Darvin Hege, MD, PC, is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is an Emory Hospital residency trained psychiatrist who has been practicing psychiatry for more than 25 years. He maintains over 50 hours of AMA certified education each year to stay informed of advances in psychiatry.

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