Missouri House advances bill to create prescription drug monitoring program

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House of Representatives on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.

It's the seventh time Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, has worked on the issue.

Rehder said prescription drug monitoring programs, also known as PDMPs, are proven to be useful tools for doctors to notice the signs of addiction early.

"Pharmacists are required to put all of the prescriptions into the PDMP," she said. "Physicians have access, so they can sign up, register to be a part of the PDMP, and that gives them to their patients' records."

Missouri is the only state without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.

Stacy Welling, the owner of Whaley's Pharmacy in Jefferson City, said other states have noticed that Missouri does not have a statewide program.

"We are also kind of made fun of a little bit by other states because we've been behind the eight-ball on this process," she said. "So [I've] sat through a lot of conferences talking about the opioid epidemic and the role that pharmacists play in helping to control that."

Rehder's bill received initial approval from House lawmakers by a vote of 110 to 43. It still needs one more vote before going to the Senate.

Two Boone County lawmakers voted against the bill: Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland, and Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville.

Reisch said she was concerned about the state having a database with prescription information in it.

"I'm about the rights of people and the Constitution, and I think, again, this is government overreach," she said. 

Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake St. Louis, said if the program was implemented, it would have unintended consequences.

"People are going to die at a faster rate because they're going to be forced to turn to carfentanil and fentanyl and heroin," he said.

Hill said these illicit drugs can be obtained without going to a pharmacy.

Lawmakers in the House had five hours of debate Wednesday before taking the vote.

Rehder said the program is "not a silver bullet, but it is definitely a proven tool to help the opioid epidemic."

A Senate committee on Wednesday rejected a similar bill by a vote of 3-3.