House bills would allow monitoring of prescription drug use

10 months 3 days 1 hour ago April 20, 2016 Apr 20, 2016 Wednesday, April 20 2016 Wednesday, April 20, 2016 3:04:00 PM CDT in News
By: Max Diekneite, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA -  A new initiative to fight opiate drug addiction is under way in Missouri. The House reviewed HB 1892 Wednesday, which would create a database so that doctors and pharmacists could track a patient's previous medication purchases, and deny them access if necessary.

Missy Thomas, the program director at Columbia’s Behavior Health Group, a rehabilitation center for people addicted to opiates, said the bill could help prevent people from becoming addicted to drugs such as heroin.

“That’s how it works, that’s how it starts, and it happens every day and it’s very sad,” said Thomas.

But not everyone agrees. Greg Tlapek, the executive director of the Missouri Libertarian Party, said the bill would infringe on the freedom of Missouri citizens.

“It’s going to be ineffective, burdensome and expensive, and it will also be invasive of personal liberties,” Tlapek said.

He said the bill could put doctors in a situation where they’re afraid to prescribe people the medication they need.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, said the bill would require anyone who prescribes schedule II through schedule IV drugs to submit a patient’s prescription history into a database.

“We want to cure addiction, and we want our physicians to be able to access the information they need,” she said.

Rehder said three out of four heroin users start with opiate abuse, and her bill would help prevent that.

The bill is different than SB 768, which would require the Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety committee to establish a prescription drug monitoring program. State workers would monitor people’s prescription history, and notify physicians of suspicious activity.

That bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-Buchanan, a doctor himself, said it would be the most effective route toward monitoring abusers. Schaaf said his bill would help “by having physicians who prescribe drugs be able to know who’s doctor shopping.”

Lawmakers heard the two bills back-to-back Wednesday morning, but the committee has yet to be scheduled for a final vote.

Rehder told KOMU 8 she expects the committee to hold an executive session to vote on her bill Thursday afternoon, and is hopeful it will pass.

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