Since March 29, 2009, the Iowa Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) has provided prescribers and pharmacists information regarding patients’ use of controlled substances. The PMP is designed to help prescribers evaluate and monitor controlled substance medication use and treatment outcomes of their patients. The intent of the PMP is to lead to more appropriate prescribing, a decrease in patient abuse of controlled substances, a decrease in controlled substance dependence, and a decrease in the diversion of these substances for illicit use.

Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Some prescription opioids are made from the plant directly and others are made by scientists in labs using the same chemical structure. Opioids are often used as medicines because they contain chemicals that relax the body and can relieve pain. Prescription opioids are used mostly to treat moderate to severe pain, though some opioids can be used to treat coughing and diarrhea.

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs primarily used to treat anxiety, but are also effective in treating several other conditions. It is not known exactly how benzodiazepines work, but they appear to affect neurotransmitters in the brain, chemicals that nerves release in order to communicate with other nearby nerves.

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy administers the Iowa PMP with the assistance and guidance of an advisory council. The PMP Advisory Council consists of four physicians, three pharmacists, and one non-physician prescriber, and all are appointed by the Governor.

The PMP Advisory Council meets as needed to review the progress of the Iowa PMP; the benefits and costs of maintaining the Iowa PMP; possible enhancements to the program; and information, comments and suggestions received from program users and the public. The PMP Advisory Council also reviews statistics regarding the use of the Iowa PMP by prescribers, pharmacists and regulatory agencies; the number of controlled substance prescriptions filled each year; the top drugs dispensed in Iowa each year; and markers indicating possible excessive pharmacy- or doctor-shopping for controlled substances.

Since January 2019, the Iowa PMP distributes quarterly activity reports to all prescribers who are registered with the program and have prescribed at least one controlled substance during the previous review period.

The PMP also sends out proactive or “threshold” notifications to prescribers and pharmacies alerting them when one of their patients receives multiple controlled substance prescriptions from multiple providers and multiple pharmacies.

Additional information about the Iowa PMP can be found at:

About PMP Data

All pharmacies that dispense controlled substances in or into the State of Iowa are required to report to the Iowa PMP all Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substance prescriptions dispensed to patients residing in Iowa. Pharmacies are not required to, but may, report prescriptions dispensed to inpatients (hospital), long term care (nursing home) and hospice patients.

This page provides general information about the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) data and measures developed by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). Contact us for more information about these data.

How is the PMP data collected?

PMP data are reported (generally overnight and within one business day) by all pharmacies licensed in the state of Iowa that dispense Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances, and naloxone either in or into the state of Iowa. Prescribers, with the exception of veterinarians, are also required to report their dispensings and may report certain controlled substance administrations to the PMP.

What data points are submitted to the PMP?

The following elements are required during data submission to the PMP by the dispensing pharmacy:

  • Pharmacy DEA number.
  • Date the prescription is filled.
  • Prescription number.
  • Indication as to whether the prescription is new or a refill.
  • NDC number for the drug dispensed.
  • Quantity of the drug dispensed.
  • Number of days of drug therapy provided by the drug as dispensed.
  • Patient first and last names.
  • Patient address including street address, city, state, and ZIP code.
  • Patient date of birth.
  • Patient gender.
  • Prescriber DEA number.
  • Date the prescription was issued by the prescriber.
  • Method of payment.

Who is responsible for gathering this data?

Pharmacies and prescribers who dispense medications to patients are responsible for submitting data to the PMP as specified in Iowa Code 657—37.3 (124). The required data elements are specified in Iowa Code 657—37.3(2).

When/under what conditions are questions asked/data collected?

Most pharmacies submit through a secure internet connection or by utilizing an FTP (file transfer protocol) procedure via a clearing house.

How often is data collected?

Pharmacies and prescribers have one business day to report dispensed controlled substances to the PMP.

How often is the PMP updated?


Who manages the PMP dataset?

The PMP dataset is managed by the PMP Associate Director with help from a PMP administrator and other Board of Pharmacy staff, including the Executive Director.

How are the measures calculated?

Incidence Rate (Per 10K): The incidence rate is the total number of reported filled prescriptions per 10,000 population.

Rate per 10,000 population shows the number of prescriptions divided by the population and multiplied by 10,000. Displaying rates provides information relative to the population of a given area (e.g., county). This often shows a different picture than counts.

Although county A may have fewer prescriptions than county B, if county A's population is smaller, they have an overall higher prescription rate relative to their county's population. Displaying data in this way can show how prescribing controlled medications affect counties with smaller populations.

Calculating rates based on small case counts can be misleading because changes in case counts by just one or two cases can drastically change the rate. It may make it falsely appear as though prescription in a particular county is high.

Where can I find more information about the data?

Contact us to learn more about Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) data, or any of the measures displayed on the Iowa Public Health Tracking Portal.