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Colorado dentists register with state prescription program

April 20, 2015

By Kelly Soderlund

Dr. Kessler
Dr. Kessler: CDA worked with state on program.
Greenwood Village, Colo.
— The Colorado Dental Association, in collaboration with the state of Colorado, has been successful in getting 94 percent of dentists with a Drug Enforcement Agency license to register with the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

The prescription drug monitoring program is a secure, online database created in 2005 that provides objective information about patients’ controlled substance prescription records. In 2014, through the persuasion of the CDA and other key stakeholders, Colorado legislators passed a bill requiring all dentists with a DEA registration to register with the prescription drug monitoring program.

Colorado has had a prescription drug monitoring program for nearly six years but Dr. Brett Kessler, CDA president, said only around 20 percent of health care providers were using it.

“This system alerts dentists who are prescribing too much or if they have patients who are getting prescription drugs from multiple doctors,” said Dr. Brett Kessler, CDA president, who testified in front of the state senate as the representative from dentistry. “In Colorado, more people died from prescription drug overdoses than drunk driving in 2013. In response to the growth of prescription drug misuse and abuse, the four major prescribers in the state — physicians, dentists, nurses and pharmacists — got together to discuss best practices and what we can do to curb the problem, since the prescriptions are coming from us.”

The health care providers were also responding to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan, which expands on President Obama’s National Drug Control Strategy. The plan calls for educating parents, youth and patients about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs; developing convenient and environmentally responsible prescription drug disposal programs; providing law enforcement with the necessary tools to eliminate improper prescribing practices and stop pill mills; and implementing prescription drug monitoring programs in every state to reduce “doctor shopping.”

The White House’s plan also included connecting prescription drug monitoring programs from state to state to prevent patients from hopping over the border to get drugs.

Dr. Kessler attributes much of the success of the high enrollment to the CDA’s marketing of the program. Colorado state officials recorded a series of public service advertisements that the CDA helped market through social media and sent to members via email. Dr. Kessler was prominently featured in the PSAs. To view the PSAs, visit and search for “DORA Colorado.”