Arkansas ranks first in the nation in non-medical use of prescription pain relievers and the second highest in the nation in drug overdose deaths. To combat the increasing abuse of prescription drugs, Arkansas Department of Health authorized the state’s electronic Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP).

On October 8, 2013 Eric Shoffner, a pharmacist at Walmart Pharmacy worked with two Harding University College of Pharmacy students, Chan Shanley and Dhruvi Patel.  A seminar was held at Harris Hospital to discuss the use of PMP and its function as a comprehensive effort to fight the spread of prescription drug abuse in the State. There were over 30 attendees representing physicians, nurses, dentists and pharmacists along side local law enforcements and legal authorities. This was a first meeting of its kind.

By increasing number of healthcare practitioners and pharmacists participating in this prescription drug database, it has become easier to track the people who are seeking controlled substances for potential abuse. With over 77.2 million hydrocodone tablets dispensed in a span of only 9 months in Arkansas, this electronic program helps curb misuse and abuse of these drugs while helping combat drug diversion.  While a portion of this number is for legitimate use, a portion is for illegitimate use; it has become very crucial to distinguish between an injured veteran who really needs this medication and a drug-seeker who simply wants them. This tracking system has been up and running for a year now and it is beginning to make a difference in drug seeking behavior. A physician at an outpatient hospital or emergency department can immediately go online and see if a patient is doctor shopping and a pharmacist can check to see if the person presenting a prescription is pharmacy shopping. They would be able to see where and when the patient was seen and what they were prescribed and where the prescription was filled.  This allows a practitioner to guide a patient in the right direction for help while focusing more care on the patients that are legitimately using these prescription medications. All information in this database is HIPAA protected and protected by federal law. With active participation from all prescribers and pharmacists, we may soon see a decrease in prescription drug abuse, diversion and overdose deaths.  In closing statement to those present, Shoffner stated that the combined efforts of Drs, Pharmacist, Law enforcement and the Court system, the PMP has been the part that is missing.  We now have firm facts regarding controlled drug usage and patient legitimacy.  These are exciting times to help curb drug abuse and misuse. 

How can you help as a citizen? If you have expired or unused medications or samples lying around in the corner of your homes, you can safely dispose of them on October 26, 2013. Drop them at the medication take-back stand at Walmart Parking lot between 10am-2pm. This is one step closer to a safer and cleaner environment!!

Representing body at the seminar:

Pharmacists: Fred Melder, Wanda Barton, Eric Shoffner, Harold Norman, Jimmy Darling and Mary Davis, Cynthia Warren

Dentist: Patti Mullins

Doctors: Jabez Jackson, Russell DiPonio, Green Roger, Virginitia Fuentes-Rodriguez, Mufiz Chauhan

Missy Gates represented Dr’s Retha and Guilford Dudley and Kathy Green co-representing Roger Green,

Harris Hospital Administrator: Robert Rudd

Michael Scudder representing the local law enforcement (Newport Police Department and Jackson County Sheriff and Mayor David Stewart).

Prosecuting Attorney – Henry Boyce and 3rd Circuit Court Judge Harold Erwin. 

Representing Newport Public Schools – Katrina Shoffner

Nurses:  Ann Stapleton, Diane, Terry