Controversy Surrounds Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

8 years 6 months 2 weeks ago Wednesday, March 07 2012 Mar 7, 2012 Wednesday, March 07, 2012 6:06:00 PM CST March 07, 2012 in News
By: Kylie McGivern

JEFFERSON CITY -  Senators faced off Wednesday, voicing passion both for and against a bill requiring a state prescription drug monitoring program.

"Basically what we're doing here, is we're taking all the citizens, including my mother and your grandmother, and putting their very highly sensitive prescription drug information in a government database. I mean, talk about big brother. This is the worst kind of government intrusion on our lives," Senator Rob Schaaf (R) Buchanan and Platte Counties said.

For Schaaff, that is a bitter pill to swallow.

"I mean, talk about big brother. This is the worst kind of government intrusion into our lives," Shaaf said.

In January 2012, the Center for Disease Control reported, "Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. In 2007, approximately 27,000 unintentional drug overdoses occurred in the U.S. - one death every 19 minutes."

"The fact that we don't have hardly any restrictions and monitoring is killing people in Missouri," Senator Kevin Engler (R) Farmington said. "Just today, a guy I used to play basketball with in the mornings overdosed - 50 years old, father worker - just got hooked on some of these prescription drugs and died, just today."

Kilgore's pharmacist Bill Morrissey confirmed an upward trend in Columbia prescription abuse.

"You know, seeing prescriptions filled firsthand on a daily basis, I can definitely tell you that there is lots of issues in the Columbia area."

Morrissey said he's caught everything from forged prescriptions, to phone calls trying to order prescriptions early.

All but two states implement the prescription monitoring system, but the effectiveness is debatable.

"I see many holes in the theory that this drug monitoring system is going to stop drug seeking behavior. It's not."

The House passed its version of the bill Tuesday night. Pharmacists and doctors would have seven days to add the prescriptions they dispense to an online database.

The following are exerpts from the senate bill description:

"SB710 establishes the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act. The Department of Health and Senior Services is required to establish and maintain a program to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of all Schedule II through Schedule IV controlled substances by all licensed professionals who prescribe or dispense these substances in Missouri. The provisions of this act shall be funded with federal or private moneys."

"A dispenser shall electronically submit to the department information for each prescription and specify the frequency of the submissions."

"All submitted prescription information shall be kept confidential with specified exceptions. This act authorizes the release of non-personal, general information for statistical, educational, and research purposes. The department shall review the dispensation information and, if there is reasonable cause to believe a violation of law or breach of professional standards may have occurred, the department shall notify the appropriate law enforcement or professional regulatory entity and provide dispensation information required for an investigation."

"The Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous drugs within the department shall establish, beginning January 1, 2014, a two -year statewide pilot project for the reporting of fraudulently obtained prescription controlled substances. The bureau shall submit on or before February 1, 2014, a report to the General Assembly detailing the specified information regarding the pilot project."

Legislative Spring Break begins Friday, so if the bill isn't discussed Thursday, there will be no word on its progression for another week or so.

(Jiselle Macalaguin/KOMU)

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