Updates PDMP requirements

HARRISBURG — Legislation exempting Schedule V epilepsy drugs from having to be queried as part of the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) was signed into law Friday, according to state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23).

Senate Bill 728, now Act 79 of 2017, amends the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program (ABC-MAP) Act to exempt prescribers from the requirement to query the database when nonnarcotic Schedule V drugs are prescribed to treat epilepsy or a seizure disorder.

The ABC-MAP Act requires prescribers to query the database prior to dispensing Schedule II through Schedule V controlled substances for each patient the first time the patient is prescribed a controlled substance by the prescriber, if the prescriber believes or has reason to believe that a patient may be abusing or diverting drugs, or each time a patient is prescribed an opioid drug product or benzodiazepine by the prescriber.

The legislature also amended the bill to clarify that a prescriber does not need to query the PDMP after an initial query if a patient remains in a licensed health care facility or is in observation status in a licensed health care facility.

“While we need to do everything we can to stop prescription drug abuse, we must also be cautious not to create unnecessary hurdles for patients to receive appropriate, prescribed, and often lifesaving medications,” Sen. Yaw said. “Senate Bill 728 aims to improve treatment and care for Pennsylvanians living with epilepsy. I thank the governor for approving this measure.”

“For several years, the Epilepsy Foundation has advocated for exempting Schedule V epilepsy medications from the state’s monitoring program to ensure timely access to epilepsy care,” said Elizabeth Beil, President and CEO, Epilepsy Foundation Eastern Pennsylvania. “People living with epilepsy are at risk for breakthrough seizures and related complications, including death, when they experience delays and interruptions in care. Removing unnecessary barriers with passage of SB 728 is a big win for epilepsy families across the state and we are incredibly grateful for Senator Yaw and Representative DiGirolamo’s leadership.”

Surrounding states, including Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey, have chosen to exclude non-narcotic, non-opioid Schedule V substances from their prescription monitoring programs.

“Our focus should be on the narcotic and opioid drugs, not on the medications that significantly improve and even save the lives of the estimated 209,000 Pennsylvanians living with epilepsy,” Yaw added.