Mandatory prescription drug monitoring programs and overlapping prescriptions of opioids and benzodiazepines: Evidence from Kentucky

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2023 Feb 1;243:109759. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109759. Epub 2022 Dec 28.


Background: In response to the opioid epidemic, many states implemented mandates requiring providers to check prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) before prescribing opioids. We examine how overlapping benzodiazepine and opioid prescriptions changed after Kentucky implemented a PDMP mandate in July 2012.

Methods: We conducted an interrupted time series analysis using monthly data from Kentucky's PDMP from 2010 to 2016. Separate analyses were conducted for overlapping prescriptions from a single provider or multiple providers, and by sex and age group. We also conducted an individual-level longitudinal analysis that compared changes in utilization patterns after the mandate went into effect to changes in earlier periods during which the mandate was not in effect.

Results: Kentucky's PDMP mandate was associated with an immediate 7.5 % decline in the rate of overlapping benzodiazepine and opioid prescriptions and a significant change in the trend from increasing to decreasing. Approximately half of the immediate effect in level terms was explained by decreases in overlapping prescriptions written by a single provider. Our longitudinal analysis suggests that over one year the mandate reduced initiation of overlapping prescriptions by 29.3 % and reduced continuation of overlapping prescriptions by 9.4 %. The effects of the policy were largest for women and men aged 36-50.

Conclusions: Though not the main rationale for the policy, Kentucky's PDMP mandate reduced overlapping prescriptions of benzodiazepines and opioids. Further efforts to reduce overlapping prescriptions should consider the effects on populations such as women over 50, who have high rates of overlapping prescriptions.

Keywords: Benzodiazepines; Opioids; Overlapping prescriptions; Prescription drug monitoring program.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kentucky / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs*
  • Prescriptions


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Benzodiazepines