JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s statewide prescription drug monitoring program is up and running.
Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, confirmed in a public health meeting that the program has been active since the last week in November.
“We meet once a week,” Williams said. “Since we are an investigative body, I don’t want to give too many specifics.”
The program — created by Gov. Eric Greitens through executive order last summer — is aimed at reducing the opioid crisis in the state by identifying prescribers who help fuel prescription painkiller abuse.
“We can pull up a spreadsheet and see all the prescriptions in the state,” Williams said. “That enables us to go, ‘wait a minute, why in the world is that doctor writing that many prescriptions.’ They may not be doing anything wrong, but it is highly suspicious.”
Instances of wrongdoing are either referred to the Drug Enforcement Agency or Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts depending on the case.
Express Scripts, one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit management firms, is providing the state with the prescription data — voluntarily and free. Express Scripts provides Missouri with the prescriber’s name, pharmacy name, and drug name and strength amongst other relevant data. No patient information is given. Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, based in St. Louis, has also been instrumental in encouraging elected officials throughout the state to support a statewide program over the years.
The state has put out overtures to other companies like CVS and UnitedHealth for their data — again, on a voluntary basis.
The Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs within the DHSS is currently handling the program and looking over the data.
“We are using our existing resources,” Williams said.
Even with this program in place, there are four bills in the legislature that relate to a prescription drug monitoring program. But the General Assembly has failed in the past to move forward with PDMP, which lead to Greitens taking executive action.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.