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The Mitigating Role of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs in the Abuse of Prescription Drugs


  • Birk, Erica G.

    () (Analysis Group)

  • Waddell, Glen R.

    () (University of Oregon)


In response to the epidemic of prescription-drug abuse, now 49 US states have passed legislation to establish Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). These programs track controlled-substance prescribing and usage behavior in an effort to improve patient outcomes and identify and preempt access by drug abusers. We exploit variation in the timing of implementation across states to identify the effectiveness of PDMPs on reducing opioid abuse. In particular, by considering the role of specific program attributes we offer the strongest evidence to date of the potential for PDMP-type policy to decrease opioid-related treatment admissions. We also consider heterogeneity across intensity and tenure of use, which reveals that the largest gains are coming from reductions in the number of less-attached users. Overall, these results have important implications for the effective re-design of PDMP policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Birk, Erica G. & Waddell, Glen R., 2017. "The Mitigating Role of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs in the Abuse of Prescription Drugs," IZA Discussion Papers 10990, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10990

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas C. Buchmueller & Colleen Carey, 2018. "The Effect of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs on Opioid Utilization in Medicare," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 77-112, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Resul Cesur & Joseph J. Sabia & W. David Bradford, 2019. "Did the War on Terror Ignite an Opioid Epidemic?," NBER Working Papers 26264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    prescription drug; drug treatment; opioid; abuse;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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