Due To Inaction In Jefferson City, Counties Move To Create Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Why can’t Missouri do something the other 49 states, the District of Columbia and the territory of Guam have done?

That’s the question some local governments, health professionals and addiction experts are asking because Missouri remains as the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program.

The electronic databases, known as “PDMPs,” allow medical professionals to track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances to patients.

In looking for ways to curb illegal drug use, three of the largest counties in the St. Louis region have decided the time to act is now.

As a dealer of hope today in Springfield, Substance Abuse Counselor David Stoecker will be the first to tell people he once felt hopeless. He remembers the addictive allure of controlled substances he has been around, especially the morphine he was once prescribed after a car accident.

“I instantly went into these horrible withdrawals and I reached out to some people, thought man I feel like crap, I don’t know what to do, how can I overcome this,” Stoecker said. “And they in turn, lead me to some people that I could buy prescription pills from.”

The “hope dealer” says a prescription drug monitoring program may slow the drug dealers who once sold him those pills.

“That’s what we’ve seen in a lot of places,” Stoecker said. “Especially in hospitals where if you have someone who comes in and they’re constantly coming in, they [doctors] can look and see all those previous times they [a patient] came in and attempted to obtain opiates plus maybe all of the different doctors that they’re getting opiates from.”

“The whole heroin thing and this issue I think a year or two ago it was still kind of strange and people just couldn’t believe that something like that was going on in St. Charles County or Greene County,” said St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann.

Tuesday evening, St. Charles County’s legislative body voted to team up with St. Louis County and St. Louis City to create a PDMP for the region. Ehlmann told KOLR10 News he sees no barriers for other local governments interested in doing the same thing.

“I think by now just about every family either has been affected by this or knows another family who has been affected in some way,” Ehlmann said.

“I personally know 18 people in Springfield that have died since January 2015 and that’s a small fraction,” Stoecker said. “I know last year we had over 100 overdoses in Greene County. This is a serious problem here in our community and it’s something we need to do something about.”

Rep. Lynn Morris, R-Nixa, has learned about PDMP’s both in his occupation as a pharmacist and in his time in Jefferson City.

Morris said in some states, information is uploaded to the PDMP every 3-4 days. Morris said a real-time system would be more costly, but effective.

Morris’ Family Pharmacy chain stores have connectivity, so his employees can flag whether someone is attempting to fill a prescription at more than one location. However, he does not know if that customer has also paid Walgreens or CVS a visit.

“Like when I use an example of one store getting to another store, we don’t know what happens in between,” Morris said. “So we can’t know what happens to the other pharmacies, whether they actually got duped and filled the prescription up, we don’t know.”

Legislation to enact a PDMP gets broad support from both parties in Jefferson City.

However, Sen. Rob Schaff, R-St. Joseph, a physician, typically threatens to shut those bills down because of concerns about personal privacy.

KOLR10 News has sent numerous interview requests in the last few months to Schaff’s office, but he has not agreed to answer questions.

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