- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 1, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - State House members gave initial approval Tuesday to legislation that would make Missouri the final state to adopt a prescription drug monitoring program.

The legislation, approved by a 91-68 vote, would require pharmacies to report to the state health department details about medications dispensed to people. That information would go into a database accessible to doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement.

The intent is to prevent people from racking up multiple, similar prescriptions from different medical professionals, either to feed their own drug addictions or sell the drugs to others.

The bill needs another vote to go to the Senate, where similar proposals have stalled in the past.

Bill sponsor Rep. Holly Rehder, a Republican from Sikeston, said the prescription drug monitoring program would help get painkillers off the street and decrease opiate overdoses.



House Speaker Todd Richardson supported the program, but debate was delayed for about three weeks while Republicans tried to smooth over disagreements between some members who support the monitoring and others who think it’s an invasion of privacy.

Rep. Jay Barnes said opiate addiction is a serious problem but that it will not be solved with a “dragnet” database.

“Addicts are going to get their fix, no matter what hurdle the government puts in front of them,” said Barnes, a Republican from Jefferson City who has proposed a system that monitors only people who have a history of drug addiction.

Rehder said a prescription drug monitoring program is a step in the right direction, even if it will not solve all the state’s drug problems. She pointed out that Republicans have supported databases intended to verify the eligibility of people who receive welfare or social services benefits.

“It’s very interesting to me how we pick and choose when we’re going to ring the Freedom Bell,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says prescription drug monitoring programs are “among the most promising state-level interventions to improve painkiller prescribing.”

New Hampshire launched a prescription drug monitoring program in 2014, which left Missouri as the only state without one, according to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. The group says the District of Columbia has authorized a monitoring program, but it is not yet operational.

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Drug monitoring bill is HB1892.

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Online:

Missouri House: https://www.house.mo.gov

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Associated Press writer David A. Lieb contributed to this report.

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