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Missouri remains only state without a program to track opioid prescriptions

Missouri remains only state without a program to track opioid prescriptions

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opioid tablets

Oxycodone is the generic name for a range of opioid pain killing tablets. 

JEFFERSON CITY — Legislation to create a prescription drug monitoring program died Friday in the Senate, leaving Missouri as the only state in the U.S. without a program to track opioid prescriptions.

While the Senate approved a version of the program in March, some Republicans who fought the plan in past years continued their vocal opposition on Friday.

Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, attacked the House for playing “political games” with the legislation.

“Earlier this week, they decided as a collective body to vote down the version of the bill that we had agreed to send them,” he said.

The Senate’s version of the plan included a provision to criminalize fentanyl trafficking, but a joint House and Senate committee removed the language earlier this week. The House voted Wednesday to approve the compromise plan.

On the Senate floor Friday, Eigel and other Republican senators raised many of the same objections they have in the past. They argued the database would be government overreach, would compromise patient privacy and wouldn’t solve the opioid crisis.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said the version the Senate passed in March wasn’t nearly as much of a “threat to liberty” as it had been in the past, though he still voted “no.”

“But since then, I’ve been given additional information that kind of makes me even more of a ‘no,’” Emery said.

The program’s supporters say a drug monitoring program is a critical tool for medical professionals that will help them prevent addiction.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called statewide programs “among the most promising state-level interventions” to help improve opioid prescribing practices and protect at-risk patients. The CDC notes that, even though research findings are mixed, monitoring programs have been shown to decrease admissions for substance abuse treatment.

After about an hour-and-a-half of discussion, Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, who sponsored the Senate plan, withdrew the legislation from the Senate floor. It did not receive a vote before the legislative session ended at 6 p.m. Friday.

The Missouri Legislature has debated the creation of a drug monitoring program without acting for eight years in a row.

The proposed law would have created a statewide electronic database and required medical providers to track drug prescriptions with the potential for abuse. Such a database would allow physicians and pharmacists to see a patient’s prescription history so they can intervene if it appears the person is suffering from addiction.

With no statewide system in place, St. Louis County’s own program has expanded to cover about 85% of the state’s residents since 2017 as jurisdictions outside of the county opted in.

The legislation is House Bill 1693.

{span class=”print_trim”}Updated at 6:23 p.m.

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