Pubdate: Tue, 24 Jan 2017
Source: Kansas City Star (MO)
Copyright: 2017 The Kansas City Star
Author: Mike Hendricks


Jackson County announced Tuesday that it will join St. Louis County in a
prescription drug monitoring program as a way to fight abuse of

Missouri is the only state in the nation without a system to track the
sales of prescription drugs.

Despite repeated attempts over the past decade and wide support from
health advocates, law enforcement and others, the General Assembly has
been unable to pass legislation that would set up a statewide program. A
small number of opponents have blocked those bills, citing privacy

Hearings on two competing proposals, Senate Bill 74 and Senate Bill 231,
are set for 10 a.m. Wednesday in Jefferson City before the Senate Health
and Pensions Committee.

Prescription drug monitoring programs help combat the practice of "doctor
shopping." Many drug abusers build stockpiles of opioids and other
potentially harmful drugs by convincing numerous doctors to write

Monitoring programs give doctors access to records showing what
prescriptions their patients are filling at pharmacies. That way they can
cut off patients who are abusing prescriptions and help them seek

The Jackson County Legislature authorized establishment of its monitoring
system late last year. Both Kansas City and Independence have said they
will join in when it is set up.

St. Louis County's system, which includes the city of St. Louis, is
already up and running, making it cheaper for Jackson County to activate
its own.

The Jackson County program is estimated to cost $150,000 or less. A
coordinator is being hired.

Recently at the urging of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat,
the federal government agreed to help counties pay for monitoring
programs. Previously the grants were available only to states.

Once the program has been activated this spring, pharmacists would have
seven days to provide information on each purchase of schedule II, III and
IV controlled substances, or face up to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail on
each violation.

Those drugs include strong painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine and
weaker medications like diazepam, more commonly know by the brand name

Supporters of drug monitoring programs are once again seeking approval of
a bill that would make the county programs unnecessary.

"Missouri has the votes in both the House and the Senate to pass the law,
as long as a few obstructionists will choose to stand down," according to
Shatterproof, a national nonprofit group dedicated to fighting addiction
to prescription drug.
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