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Missouri To Implement Drug Monitoring Program To Help Combat Opiate Epidemic

Opiate abuse is a problem that has been tackled by many politicians. Laws have been created to help control the abuse as well as change the way that these drugs get into the hands of addicts. A huge culprit in the opiate epidemic that many law makers are working towards fixing is the abuse of prescription medications. Due to their enormous value on the black market, many patients who are prescribed prescription painkillers sell their medications for very high profits.

A Republican legislator wants to put the state of Missouri on track with the rest of the country by passing a prescription drug monitoring program. Republican Holly Rehder said that she will pre-file a bill that would let the state establish a database to track who is being prescribed opiate pain medications as well as other potentially addictive prescription drugs. Drug monitoring programs have been game-changers in the way that authorities have been able to track and curb prescription drug abuse. What brought on drug monitoring programs was an illegal practice known as “doctor shopping.” Patients would see many different doctors per month for the same ailments and fill many prescriptions for powerful opiate painkillers at different pharmacies. People who were involved with “doctor shopping” were able to make incredible amounts of money and flood the black market with dangerous prescription painkillers.

As of right now, Missouri is the only state in the country that does not have a prescription drug monitoring program. Though it is a very popular program, there are those against it, who feel it violates our privacy. Some people believe that medications they are prescribed is none of the government's business. They do not like the fact that their personal medical files are being monitored and they feel it is an invasion of privacy. Though these are true, the fact is that the government is not monitoring every medication. That would take too much manpower and money. They are simply monitoring prescription narcotics that are highly prescribed and abused. They are also tracking the the amount of prescriptions that doctor's are writing. If a doctor is prescribing an abnormal amount of prescription painkillers, it will draw attention and an investigation into the doctor will begin. This does not mean that every doctor who prescribes opiates will be investigated. It will just throw up red flags for doctors who have higher prescribing rates than others.

Under Rehder's bill, prescription records in the database would be considered closed records, but law enforcement agencies could obtain them through a subpoena or court order. This will please most non-supporters of prescription drug monitoring programs because their records would not be able to be looked at freely. There will be obvious legal steps that will have to be taken for those that are showing enough suspicion to warrant such an investigation. The state health agency also would be required to notify law enforcement or professional licensing boards and provide drug dispensing information if there was “reasonable cause to believe a violation of law or breach of professional standards may have occurred.”

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