What if the doctors you see for various health issues could know what medications you’ve been prescribed?
They could tell if perhaps you’ve been going doctor to doctor, gathering up pills for an assortment of ailments, possibly fueling an addiction.
They already have this authority. Patients routinely agree to such information-sharing as a part of their appointments. And wise patients want doctors to have such essential information so that the most effective medications can be prescribed, free of worry about negative drug interactions or over-prescribing.
Every other state except Missouri also takes an additional step. Forty-nine states have initiated programs to help doctors and pharmacists track this prescription information by keeping it up to date and accessible in encrypted databases.
Missouri is the only state in the nation that has not launched a prescription drug monitoring system. It’s a glaring lack of oversight and a gaping hole in the state’s health care safety net. Missouri’s inaction is inexcusable amid the rise in prescription drug overdoses, which are now considered an epidemic by national health experts.
Missouri is where addicts come to circumvent monitoring systems elsewhere. It’s a heck of a thing to gain notoriety for, pushing people toward a possible overdose.
But with lawmakers’ help, this could soon change. Momentum is building to pass a bill that would allow Missouri to join the same system used in more than 40 other states.
It’s called Appriss. The company was founded in 1994 and has evolved into a global enterprise, helping pharmacies track over-the-counter sales of cold medicine to combat methamphetamine addiction. In 2013, Appriss linked with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to launch a program to address prescription drug abuse.
States’ use of the system varies, but in many cases, algorithms are used to send notifications to pharmacists and doctors when a person in their care has hit a specific number of prescriptions for certain addictive medications. Those flags are not attached to a patient name, said Rep. Holly Rehder, a Republican of Sikeston and a sponsor of House Bill 90.
With such safeguards in place to protect patient privacy, it’s time for Missouri legislators to act at long last and establish a statewide prescription drug monitoring system.