Proposed prescription drug monitoring program excludes teens
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri is currently the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program.
The Missouri Senate passed Senate Bill 63 and 111, which proposes a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), on April 2nd. Supporters of the PDMP lobbied at the Capitol Wednesday.
The bill does not require individuals who are under 18 years old to be registered into the system. This provision is from an amendment added by Senator Bob Onder (R-Lake Saint Louis).
The amendment also makes Missouri the only state to completely bar reporting of controlled substances prescribed to people under the age of 18.
Onder is also a medical doctor who has a private practice. He thinks that it is not necessary for individuals who are under 18 years of age to be entered into the system because it is a breach of privacy.
"We had the concern of subjecting our children to privacy breaches, so I added that amendment to exempt children from the prescription drug monitoring program," Onder said.
Onder believes that having personal information in a government database could lead to further security problems.
"I think if we are solicitous and protective of our own data, I think we should be all the more protective of our children's data," Onder said.
The idea of the bill is to curtail prescription drug abuse among "doctor shoppers" or patients who go to numerous doctors in order to obtain more medication for abusive purposes.
Onder thinks that doctor shopping is not a problem among people who are under 18.
According to ACT Missouri, the state resource center for drug and alcohol prevention, many teenagers turn to prescription drugs to get high because they see it as a safe alternative. Not only can they look up the drug dosage and details online, they also believe it is safe because doctors prescribe the medication.
Natalie Newville is the public information officer at ACT Missouri. She thinks that exempting minors is not the best idea.
"That's [not including everyone] a red flag to us...it's not considered best practices," Newville said.
Newville says for a prescription drug monitoring system to be considered "best practices", it must be required for everyone, regardless of age their age to use, and the information in the database must be kept for a long period of time.
In the 2014 Missouri Student Survey, 3.7 percent of students reported that they used prescription drugs for recreational purposes in the last 30 days. It is higher than the national average of 2.2 percent.
Newville thinks there is a prescription drug abuse problem in the state and a monitoring system that includes everyone, regardless of age, is necessary.
"I think that since we are above the national average, most definitely [we have a problem]," Newville said.
Dan Cornell is a pharmacist at Flow's Pharmacy on Broadway. He was not aware that the bill would exclude individuals under 18 years of age.
"I think you ought to make it across the board and that way include everyone," Cornell said.
Currently, if you are under 18 years of age, you must be accompanied by an adult to pick up your prescription drugs. However, Cornell still sees the possibility of abuse among teenagers.
"I really don't think there should be an age limit as far as, whether it's over 18 or under 18," Cornell said. "I think if you're going to have a drug abuse problem, you're going to have a drug abuse problem."
Jim Marshall is a track and field and cross-country coach at Westminster College in Fulton. He is also the founder of Cody's Gift, a not for profit organization that honors his son, Cody, who died in September of 2011 after he overdosed on heroin and Xanax. The organization provides a resource for those who need help, and education so they make better choices.
He remembers how confused he felt the day that his son died. Now Marshall travels around Missouri, speaking to students in schools to educate them about the dangers of substance abuse.
"I sure wanted to make sure any other answer that I got would be passed on to other people so that we could prevent this or maybe help decrease this in someway shape or form so other families didn't have to suffer," Marshall said.
Marshall thinks that including everyone in the PDMP system is something lawmakers should work on.
"We're not trying to catch kids...we're not trying to expose the fact that they have certain things prescribed to them," Marshall said. "We're trying to prevent them from becoming addicts."
To see the full text of the bill, you can click here.