- Associated Press - Monday, March 30, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri senators moved one step closer to enacting a tracking database for prescription drugs on Monday, despite years of failure amid privacy concerns.

The legislation would create a program that monitors when prescriptions for drugs considered controlled substances are written and filled, with the goal of stopping so-called doctor shoppers from amassing pills to use recreationally or sell.

State lawmakers have resisted enacting such a program for more than a decade because of worries about the security of a government database with medical information. The release of the state’s concealed carry information by the Highway Patrol in 2011 further fueled criticism of creating another database.

Missouri now is the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program, but compromises Monday could mean the bill has a better chance of passing.

Debate continued for hours as lawmakers weighed protecting private medical records, enacting safeguards against potentially deadly drug addictions and giving police additional tools to crack down on drug abuse.



Changes included a mandate that the database be encrypted, a sunset requiring a vote of approval to renew the program in 2020 and other limits aimed at clamping down on who can see the data and when.

Senators also slashed the length of time data would be saved. The original bill would have required the prescription information be purged every two years, but that was cut to 180 days.

Bill sponsor and Republican Sen. David Sater, a pharmacy owner from Cassville, said restricting access to that information could limit its effectiveness. But he said the concessions were worth paving the way for a voice vote Monday for initial approval of the bill, which he called “a step in the right direction.”

Even with the amendments, some senators were reluctant to support the bill.

“I still feel like this is not a good idea,” Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said after roughly five hours of debate.

A second full Senate vote is needed before it can move to the House, which has already passed a similar bill.

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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 Summer Ballentine at https://www.twitter.com/esballentine

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