- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A prescription drug monitoring system that supporters say would be the most secure in the country was approved Thursday by the Missouri Senate.

Missouri is the only state in the U.S. without a system to track prescriptions and sales of highly addictive medications such as painkillers. The proposal has been held up in previous years because of privacy concerns about the data collected by the database, but this year’s measure includes enhanced protections and penalties for misuse.

“We probably have the most secure, the most effective PDMP (prescription drug monitoring program) in the U.S.,” said the measure’s sponsor Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville.

The bill, passed 24-10, would create a monitoring program to track when prescriptions for controlled drugs are written and filled, with the goal of preventing abuse of pills such as painkillers through “doctor shopping.” That entails stockpiling medications to feed personal addictions or sell on the black market.

Compromises to ease concerns included a mandate that the database be encrypted, a sunset requiring the Legislature reconsider the program in 2020 and a 180-day time limit on keeping prescription information.

Despite the added protections, 10 Republican senators voted against the measure, expressing continued concern about the collection of peoples’ information. A 2011 release of the state’s concealed carry information by the Highway Patrol has fueled criticism of creating another database.

“This is so personal. The implications are enormous for people that might be affected if their medical information was disclosed to third parties,” said Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

The measure now goes to the House, which approved a similar program last month that’s now pending approval in the Senate.

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Prescription drug monitoring bill is SB 63.

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Online:

Senate: https://www.senate.mo.gov

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Follow Marie French at: https://www.twitter.com/m_jfrench

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