AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Faced with the task of curbing opioid misuse in the state of Texas, some lawmakers are exploring several avenues to improve the workflow of the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), as well as clarifying how parents can access their kid’s prescription information. 

“As a physician, we all worry very much about the opioid crisis,” Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, said. “As a mom, I worry about our kids. We’ve seen several people and families impacted by this crisis.” 

During the interim, Buckingham was on the Joint Interim Committee on Prescribing and Dispensing Controlled Substances. Lawmakers on the committee studied the PMP extensively and produced a report with a list of recommendations. The recommendations include appointing an advisory committee of prescribers and dispensers to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. The committee would aim to examine data accuracy and best practices and workflow challenges, in addition to making PMP data available to a minor patient’s parent or guardian on behalf of the kid. The report states Texas is currently one of eight states that currently doesn’t have a process for making PMP information accessible by a parent. 

“We think that was just an oversight in the original bill,” said Buckingham. “It’s just one of those things you kind of assume is going to happen because that’s how it is everywhere else, but that is one thing with regard to minors that this report addresses.”
Health experts say youth can be exposed to pain medication in several ways. 
“If an adolescent is injured, for example, and is given a certain amount of pain medication prescriptions, they may develop that opioid addiction,” said Lori Holleran Steiker, Steve Hicks Professor of Addiction, Recovery and Substance Abuse Services. “We also know from the research that students that undergo wisdom teeth extractions — which is really common in this age — are often given pain meds, which can kick off an addictive pattern in youth. We also know that parents don’t anticipate that youth are going to get involved in opioid addiction.” 

“Bringing in parents immediately and having them be a part of the process when a young person is prescribed medication decreases the chances for that,” University High School executive director Julie McElrath said.  

University High School in Austin is a place where students are provided a community with resources for recovery. Seventeen-year-old Michael Perez said he’s experienced addiction and has seen how prescription pain medications can impact other youth. 
“Some kids really need it and some kids really don’t,” said Perez. 

Buckingham said lawmakers are also going to file legislation where the PMP would have automatic notifications for physicians and pharmacists when they see a patient. 

“What we’re really trying to do is get what’s called push notifications to come up,” Buckingham said. “Because rather than stopping everything and that’s the worry – the PMP is far from perfect – but right now, a provider has to stop everything, log onto the program, check everything and then pick back up on what they’re doing, which really creates a lot of problems with workflow and getting patients through in an efficient manner.” 

Pharmacies have been reporting all the controlled substance prescriptions they fill to the PMP database by the next business day since September 2017. However, Buckingham indicated that it’s likely the mandatory September 2019 deadline for all physicians/pharmacists to check a patient’s PMP history before dispensing prescription pain medications will be pushed back.  

Buckingham added: “We’re all working to figure out what is the best path moving forward.”