By Mike Lear
Missouri now has a prescription drug monitoring program but it’s not the kind of program one state legislator has been proposing for years, and she says hers is still needed.
Representative Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston) calls the PDMP Governor Eric Greitens (R) launched Monday with an executive order, “outside the box thinking,” that will, “work really well.” She said Missouri counties should not, however, stop pursuing a program like the one she has promoted.
Prior to Monday, Missouri was the only state without a PDMP. Such programs aim to fight opioid addiction and “doctor shopping;” the visiting of multiple doctors while attempting to obtain as much as possible of drugs to be abused.
Greitens on Monday directed the Department of Health and Senior Services to track the prescribing and dispensing of schedule II-IV controlled substances. It will look for cases in which such drugs are being inappropriately prescribed or dispensed.
Unlike with Rehder’s proposed plan that data will not be available to doctors so they can look for signs of abuse and act to, among other things, offer help to abusers.
“It’s of the utmost importance, in order to treat addiction – which is at the core of this epidemic – for our medical professionals to be able to see this data. We need to be able to catch addiction on the front end and that’s what the traditional PDMP does,” said Rehder. “The executive order is phenomenal – very much outside the box thinking. I think we’re the only state doing this, which is going to be just an excellent cross check with the PDMP, and so I think with these two programs together we will have an extremely robust system focusing on the opioid epidemic, and so I’m very excited about it.”
Several counties in Missouri, St. Louis County being the first, have adopted their own monitoring programs that are more like those proposed by Rehder. She said since Monday she has been working to urge other counties not to back down from plans to adopt a program like St. Louis County’s.
“I’ve had to educate many on the fact that these are two very different programs,” said Rehder. “We had a couple of counties that said, ‘Hey, the state’s executive order gives us a statewide PDMP.’ One even cancelled a meeting for today that was going to approve an ordinance.”
Rehder said around 60-percent of Missouri’s population is already living in an area that has a monitoring program. She plans to keep urging counties to adopt one, and depending on the success of that effort, she might again propose legislation to create a statewide monitor when the legislature is in session in 2018.