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POST-DISPATCH: Long-sought prescription drug monitoring plan headed to Missouri governor’s desk

Long-sought prescription drug monitoring plan headed to Missouri governor’s desk

Jack Suntrup, May 11, 2021

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House on Tuesday approved a long-sought plan to authorize a prescription drug monitoring database, sending the legislation to Gov. Mike Parson for his consideration.

The prescription drug monitoring database, or PDMP, would collect prescription information for controlled substances so that medical professionals could have centralized access to learn what a patient has already been prescribed.

Tuesday’s vote, assuming Parson signs the bill, seemingly caps more than a decade of debate over the drug database, which despite earning bipartisan support has also generated intense opposition from many Republicans who have argued it is ineffective and invades Missourians’ privacy.

But proponents say the PDMP is a key in helping physicians flag addiction concerns with their patients before they spiral.

The House sent the legislation to Parson on a 91-64 vote, with Democrats providing enough support to pass it. Democrats applauded as the House speaker declared the bill passed.

Sen. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, has sponsored the PDMP legislation since 2014, when she was a member of the House.

“It’s all about our medical professionals having the most information about their patient so that they can make the best judgment calls to have the best outcomes,” Rehder said Tuesday after the House vote.

She added, “We know that these narcotics are incredibly addictive and now physicians can see concerning trends and make changes before someone gets one or two years down the road in their addiction and have started losing their job, losing their children.”

Missouri is the last state without such a drug database following years of inaction at the state Capitol.

“This really hasn’t changed in seven years,” said Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake Saint Louis, who opposed the bill. “We’re No. 1 in freedom, but we’re not No. 1 in overdoses.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Missouri in 2018 had the 14th highest rate of overdose deaths, at 19.6 deaths per 100,000 people, of the 39 states and Washington, D.C., whose data was included in the government analysis.

Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, said his son owns pharmacies in the Bootheel and supports the drug database. Rone’s New Madrid County is covered by St. Louis County’s PDMP, which was launched in 2016 after the Legislature failed to institute a statewide program.

Other counties were allowed to join in, and the St. Louis County program now covers more than 80% of the state, Rehder has said.

Rehder’s proposal would replace the St. Louis County program and add more requirements for sharing data.

“What I call the high-profile drugs ... you walk into his pharmacy, you give him the script, he’s going to wait 24 hours before he fills that ‘script,” Rone said. “So he can check to see if they’ve been to Hayti, Caruthersville, Kennett, trying to get the same script filled.”

Rehder said a broad coalition of support helped lift the legislation to Parson’s desk.

“This is a bipartisan piece of legislation,” Rehder said. “The fact that you have the medical professionals dealing with this every day and wanting this tool, the fact that you have so many of our counties already in this program, I think those were the two things that really helped, and the fact that everyone knows someone whose struggling (with addiction).”

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, who filed similar legislation as a member of the Legislature 15 years ago, cheered the PDMP’s passage on Tuesday.

“This has been a long time coming,” he said in a statement. “I strongly encourage Governor Parson to sign this bill into law. A special thank you to state Senator Holly Rehder for working so hard on this legislation in Jefferson City. As a medical doctor, I understand how this program helps save lives.”

The legislation is Senate Bill 63.

P.O. Box 410091
Saint Louis, MO 63141
Paid for by Page for Missouri, Sue Felling, Treasurer

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