Family Physicians to VA: Report Prescription Drug Use

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Stephanie A. Wilken
Public Relations Strategist
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5221

LEAWOOD, Kan. — Veterans keep America safe, and now family physicians want to ensure the Veteran’s Administration does its part by reporting prescription drug use. The American Academy of Family Physicians continued its fight against prescription drug abuse with a letter urging the VA to participate in prescription drug monitoring programs. Such a move would add data from millions of patients enrolled in VA health care, making PDMPs a more complete tool and resource against a growing epidemic.

AAFP Board Chair Robert Wergin, MD, took a strong position in favor of the monitoring programs in a letter to VA Undersecretary of Health David Shulkin, MD, saying the group is deeply concerned that the abuse of prescription opioid painkillers is having a devastating effect on public health and safety in communities throughout the country.

“I write to urge that all Veterans Administration prescribers participate in their state prescription drug monitoring programs regardless of whether the program qualifies as a law enforcement entity, "Wergin said in the letter. “We recognize the value of PDMPs and the interstate exchange of registry information and we see PDMPs as vital to curbing opioid misuse and diversion.

“Physician practices must have access to accurate information in real time when writing prescriptions for Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances to determine if a patient is doctor shopping. Incomplete information could put veterans and other patients at increased risk. So it is critical that VA prescribers not be exempt from mandatory reporting to their state PDMP. Prescribing physicians must have access to timely, comprehensive information for PDMPs to be effective public health tools. The AAFP realizes that there are patients with inappropriate drug-seeking behavior and, in our position paper(15 page PDF) on pain management and opioid abuse; we have called on all states to implement effective, comprehensive and real-time PDMPs to help thwart such behavior.”

The letter is part of a continued effort by the AAFP to advocate, collaborate and educate on PDMPs. In a March 1 letter sent by Wergin to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid, the AAFP praised the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, a bill that includes grants for states to establish PDMPs. The AAFP continues to identify best practices for opioid use as a member the American Medical Association Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse.


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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 124,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions(5 page PDF) on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website,