On Thursday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar held a listening session with state officials who work on prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Secretary was joined by Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat and staff from other parts of HHS, including CDC and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.
The gathering follows President Trump’s Monday announcement in New Hampshire of the administration’s new opioid addiction initiative, as well as travel and meetings by top HHS officials in seven states this week.
Participants discussed ways in which their states have developed and enhanced PDMPs, including efforts to make programs interoperable between states, raise rates of provider and prescriber participation, and make the best use possible of data generated. A number of participants individually shared the importance of combating stigma surrounding addiction, an issue Secretary Azar has made a priority.
Secretary Azar noted that PDMPs are an important part of ensuring the appropriate prescribing and use of legal opioids, a key piece of the three-point administration opioids strategy unveiled on Monday, which covers addiction prevention, supply interdiction, and treatment provision. The strategy proposes a nationally interoperable PDMP network, building on work HHS already does to promote and support PDMPs, including through CDC’s Prevention For States grant program.
Secretary Azar thanked the participants for their valuable insights and tireless work in confronting the challenge of opioid addiction. He emphasized President Trump’s personal commitment to taking bold action against the crisis, and emphasized that the federal government will continue to engage with state officials and support their work.