Evolution and Convergence of State Laws Governing Controlled Substance Prescription Monitoring Programs, 1998-2011

The Issue:

Prescription monitoring programs (PMPs) collect prescription information at the patient level (point of dispensing).  PMPs are intended as an important tool in reducing the epidemic of prescription drug overdose, yet the characteristics of them changed dramatically from 1998 through 2011 and vary among states. In 1998, only 13 states held PMP legislation and by the end of 2011, 46 states had passed PMP legislation.

Key Finding:

  • Operating characteristics; data reporting and access sharing; disclosure and data retention all varied among the 46 states which passed PMP legislation by the end of 2011.


This research compendium is intended to inform future research on the effectiveness of PMPs and particular PMP characteristics on opioid overdose and related health outcomes. Further examination of how the effects of PMPs could help address underlying causes of opioid abuse and overdose should consider the variation in PMP laws due to their heterogeneous and evolving nature.