By Reps. Phil Christofanelli and Curtis Trent
The plague of prescription drug abuse and the ensuing spread of dangerous substitutes like heroin and fentanyl has touched the lives of nearly every Missourian and has tragically harmed many of our state’s most vulnerable citizens. The authors of this piece represent very different parts of the state and voted differently on the effort to create a PDMP through statute. We, however, both agree that something must be done to address the opioid crises and see Governor Greitens’ executive order as a step in the right direction that all Missourians, including conservatives, should support.
There are many factors driving this crisis, not the least of which is a cultural predilection towards the celebration of drug abuse and the treatment of pain as a disease instead of a symptom. Often we only see the true value of old social norms after they have broken down. In the case of opioids, the modern appreciation for convenience and escapism has wrought the devastating consequences of addiction for many Missouri families. Fortunately, we have a Governor who is willing to hold the line and enforce the laws we have already passed.
With Executive Order 17-18, Gov. Greitens made clear that he intends to fully enforce Missouri’s statutes to prevent doctor shopping and find individuals who are abusing opioids or profiting from their abuse. Our state’s laws already require prescribers to provide the state with records of the drugs they distribute and the individuals to whom they distribute them. Unfortunately, due to the bureaucratic ineptitude of previous administrations, this data has been poorly utilized.
The Governor’s EO fixes this by partnering with our state’s private sector leaders to analyze this data in a way that reveals bad actors who are criminally poisoning the populace through the reckless over-prescribing of dangerous drugs. He will do this while upholding our state’s strict confidentiality laws that protect the privacy of innocent patients. This is a positive step that upholds the conservative principles on which the Governor and many in the Legislature campaigned.
Make no mistake, however, addressing the opioid crisis is not merely about law and order – it’s about saving lives. Opioids and other drugs destroy families, communities, careers, and lives. These consequences are so detrimental to the individual and society that we must fight back.
We must do more. Saving drug victims through vigorous treatment and prevention programs is part of the solution and a necessary next step. We must once again teach our children that momentary escapism is not worth the price of ruined lives. For now, we conservatives in the Legislature applaud the Governor’s action on this issue and look forward to working with him on further solutions to our state’s challenges.
Rep. Curtis Trent represents southwest Springfield and Rep. Phil Christofanelli represents Saint Peters. Both are former Congressional staff who sit on the House Budget Committee and are members of the Conservative Caucus.