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Missouri joins rest of the nation in fight against painkiller abuse

Missouri joins rest of the nation in fight against painkiller abuse

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JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri became the 50th state Monday to create a long-sought statewide prescription drug monitoring program in an attempt to contain the opioid epidemic.

In a ceremony at the Capitol, Gov. Mike Parson signed the so-called PDMP into law after years of misfires in the Legislature.

The program allows doctors to see if a patient is shopping for pills or receiving too many painkiller prescriptions.

Sen. Holly Rehder, a Sikeston Republican, had made the legislation a signature issue during her tenure in the House. She called it another tool to help keep people safe from the dangers of opioid abuse.

“This moment is so important. It is a huge blessing to get to be here,” Rehder said.

Missouri had been the only state in the U.S. without such a program. St. Louis County created its own version in 2017 and it has expanded to other counties.

That county-level program, which will be dismantled with a state plan in place, already had covered more than 80% of the state’s population.

The statewide program will compile information about prescriptions for controlled substances in a centralized database, allowing medical professionals to see what has been dispensed by other providers.

The state program would be supervised by a task force made up of members from the Board of Registration for the Healing Arts, the Board of Pharmacy, the Board of Nursing, and the Missouri Dental Board. The task force would select a vendor to collect and maintain the data.

The measure, which was sponsored by Rehder in her first year in the Senate, moved out of the upper chamber earlier this year on a 20-12 vote.

Some conservative senators opposed the legislation over privacy concerns.

But, under the new law, a vendor would not be selected to operate the program unless it agrees to the terms of the bill, which restricts how information can be shared. It specifically disallows using information in the database to take away the right to own firearms or as probable cause for an arrest or search warrant.

The House then sent the legislation to Parson on a 91-64 vote, with Democrats providing enough support to pass it.

“We hope to be able to really fight the opioid problem,” Parson said. “It’s something we’re going to be able to use as a really valuable tool.”

The legislation is Senate Bill 63.

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