Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences


Public Health


Over the past two decades, there has been a rapid increase in the number of drugrelated deaths in the United States as a result of the current opioid epidemic (Capper et al., 2018). In 2016, the number of deaths caused by drug overdoses in the United States was at least 63,000 (Ashburn, 2016). During the same year, Pennsylvania had the third highest percentage of drug overdose death rates in the country (Multiple cause of death 1999–2017, 2018). A division of drug abuse prevention policy present among 49 out of 50 states are programs known as Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) (Weber, 2019). These programs are statewide electronic databases that track all controlled substance prescriptions. Although PDMPs were introduced to decrease the prescription rate and the amount of doctor shoppers in each state, only four states have a must-use mandate requiring practitioners to use PDMPs. All other states without a mustuse mandate significantly underutilize PDMPs—Pennsylvania being one state without a must-use mandate. The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of PDMPs on drug-related deaths, prescription rates, doctor shoppers, and other trends related to the opioid epidemic in the United States. The results from the four states with must-use mandates, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and New York, suggest successful outcomes from PDMPs. Therefore, it is suggested that future directives in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia should use these data to implement a must-use mandate of their own to follow similar trends. A strong initiative taken towards initiating must-use mandates of PDMPs is necessary to reduce prescribing rates and slow the rapid rate of increase of drug-related deaths in the United States.

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