While forty-nine of this nation’s states have taken significant measures to monitor prescription drug abuse, Missouri is the lone state left behind.
In Missouri, drug seekers can doctor shop for prescriptions and take them to multiple pharmacies in order to sustain their addiction. Electronic databases used in other states help doctors, pharmacists, and law enforcement keep track of patient prescription information and watch for risky behavior. Missouri has the seventh highest drug overdose death rate in the country, a majority of which are from prescription drugs. Without a prescription drug monitoring program in our state, this drug abuse trend will continue to grow.
Prescription drug abuse is a devastating form of addiction. Many people are prescribed medicines in order to treat anxiety or to treat pain from surgeries or injuries. While the intention for these drugs is to be helpful, they are highly addictive and can lead to death by overdose. According to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, approximately 3,200 people in Missouri seek treatment for a prescription drug abuse problem each year. The most commonly used drugs were controlled substances such as Xanax, OxyContin, and Vicodin. It is clear that a prescription drug monitoring program needs to be established in Missouri.
Unfortunately, a Missouri senator chose to filibuster the legislation that would have brought the prescription drug monitoring program to our state. He worried that it would put patient privacy in jeopardy. However, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, patient information in drug monitoring databases would be just as protected as other medical records. Police would only be able to obtain patient information in active investigations, and doctors would only be able to view records of the patients they treat. In fact, medical information is already recorded by insurance companies and other entities, and Missouri requires pharmacies to collect personal information for pseudoephedrine purchases.
To help protect our citizens from the destruction of prescription drug abuse and to reduce its prevalence, prescription drug monitoring legislation needs to be reintroduced and passed.
Emily Benigar is student at the University of Central Missouri and an intern for Lees Summit CARES