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Missouri drug monitoring program stalls in the Senate once again

The Missouri Senate briefly debated a bill Thursday creating a prescription drug monitoring program. It was set aside without a vote.
The Missouri Senate briefly debated a bill Thursday creating a prescription drug monitoring program. It was set aside without a vote. The Associated Press

Missouri is the only state that hasn’t established a prescription drug monitoring program.

That seems unlikely to change this year.

A bill allowing the state Department of Health and Senior Services to start a database that would track opioid prescriptions passed the Missouri House earlier this year. It’s proponents say it would help prevent doctor shopping, by which people get medicine from multiple physicians to feed an addiction, or to sell.

Forty-nine other states use a similar program to identify people who acquire excess prescriptions for addictive painkillers and tranquilizers, as well as the physicians who over prescribe them.

But opponents — most notably Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph — have argued that in other states with a database patient privacy has been breached. Additionally, they argue, a drug database represents an infringement on personal liberty

On Thursday, with time ticking down in the legislative session before lawmakers adjourn for the year, Schaaf said he would allow the bill to move forward if proponents put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide.

He offered an amendment that would place this question before voters:

“Shall the Missouri Statutes be amended to create a database of the controlled substances dispensed to each person, searchable by name, drug, prescriber, and other elements, and accessible by all physicians and others as authorized, with the intent of 3 preventing criminal doctor shopping?”

Sen. Dave Schatz, a Franklin County Republican sponsoring the bill, said it included numerous provisions aimed at protecting patient privacy.

“We have done about everything we can to address the concerns of the individuals in (the Senate),” Schatz said.

If proponents don’t accept his amendment putting the bill on the ballot, Schaaf said, then they are the ones who are killing the bill.

In response, proponents offered to allow the issue to go on the ballot, but not with Schaaf’s suggested ballot language. Instead, they wanted the ballot to read:

“Shall the statutes of Missouri be amended to create a Narcotics Control Act to provide information and educational training to physicians and pharmacists to assist them in recognizing, diagnosing and treating prescription drug addition, and to practice safe prescribing and dispensing of prescription drugs?”

Schaaf called the ballot language offered by proponents “deceptive and shameful.” Thus, the bill is likely dead for the year.

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