JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — While the House version of a statewide prescription drug monitoring program hit the floor for open debate, the Senate version came to a halt.
On Wednesday, the Missouri House perfected HB 188, sponsored by Rep. Holly Rehder, in a 110-43 vote while Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer’s SB 155 failed to get out of committee.
Lawmakers on both sides of the issue clashed on the House floor, with supporters and opponents standing firm in their positions.
Supporters argued that a statewide PDMP is a step towards fighting the ongoing opioid crisis and help medical professionals keep track of prescribed opioids. Opponents argued that there is no proof that it will stop illegal prescriptions and raised concerns that it violates the rights and privacy of citizens.
Rehder, whose family has felt the effects of opioid addiction, has been spearheading the effort in the Missouri House for several years. The measure she is proposing this year establishes the “Narcotics Control Act,” which requires the Department of Health and Senior Services to create a program for monitoring the prescribing and dispensing of all Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances.
Missouri is the only state without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program since 2012. St. Louis County launched its own program in 2017 and more than sixty counties have joined. The county PDMP now covers 87 percent of Missouri’s population but only about 50 percent of the state’s geographical area, according to Rehder.
Gov. Mike Parson said in December that he wants a measure creating a statewide pdmp on his desk by the end of the legislative session.
HB 188 requires that each drug dispenser report dispensation information, including the prescription information and patient information of each drug dispensed. The information sent is required to be confidential and the department must maintain procedures to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of the information.
The measure requires that the information in the system be removed every three years. The information cannot be used to prevent an individual from owning a firearm and the information cannot be used as the sole basis for probable cause to obtain an arrest or search warrant.
But several lawmakers had serious concerns about privacy and effectiveness of HB 188.
A PDMP violates a person’s Fourth Amendment rights, according to opponents. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable search and seizure by the government. They argued that a PDMP enables the government to have a database containing prescriptions that law-abiding citizens receive. The concern is that that data can be breached or shared with agencies without a warrant.
But supporters said those fears where misplaced. Rehder noted that 49 states have a statewide PDMP and they have had no breaches or privacy issues.
“There have been no breaches of information,” said Rehder. “All these other states…have all shown effectiveness.”
Luetkemeyer’s version was very similar to the House version but the measure failed to gain the necessary support in the Senate Seniors, Families and Children Committee.
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.