Opioid addiction is recognized as a public health problem of epidemic proportions.
Prescription drug monitoring programs are central repositories for people prescribed addictive medications. Every state except Missouri has such a program, which allows physicians and pharmacists to know whether a patient is receiving multiple prescriptions from multiple sources.
A single state senator, Rob Schaaf, a non-practicing physician, has twice blocked prescription drug monitoring program legislation in Missouri. Schaaf defends his posturing on the grounds that databases can be hacked. He also says there is scant data to support the usage of such programs.
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According to the American Medical Association, however, state-based programs were checked by physicians 85 million times in 2015, a 40 percent increase over 2014. The AMA asserts that program use can play a significant role in combating opioid addiction.
Sen. Schaaf, please give us practicing physicians the tools we need to combat this epidemic.
Robert Stuber was born and raised in St. Joseph, where he has been an internist for 44 years and is the medical director of the St. Joseph Public Health Department. He received his medical degree in 1965 from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. He served in the Air Force from 1966 to 1968. He is married and has four children and six grandchildren.