JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After a decade of conversation in the statehouse, an effort to establish a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) made it across the legislative finish line Tuesday.
Sen. Holly Rehder’s SB 63 would establish the Joint Oversight Task Force of Prescription Drug Monitoring within the Office of Administration, creating a statewide PDMP. The task force would work with a vendor after a competitive bid to collect and maintain patient data, which would be deleted after three years. The House truly agreed and finally passed the measure Tuesday.
The bill has been a labor of love for Rehder over the years; she sponsored the bill throughout her House tenure before moving to the upper chamber this session.
“I’m so thankful beyond words. Clearly, I don’t give up easily,” Rehder told The Missouri Times. “I’m very thankful for the bipartisan support — this bill is not about politics, it’s about families and those struggling with substance use disorder. Our medical professionals need their patients’ information in order to make the most informed decisions for the best outcomes. Today, our state has made a huge step forward in the fight against the opioid epidemic.”
Rep. Justin Hill spoke against the measure as soon as it hit the floor Tuesday, saying it would be a mistake to give that power to the state and saying the bill would hurt Missourian’s rights and potentially see their information shared beyond the system. He said he would fight the bill in the future if it were to pass.
“Without a statewide program, the issue has not gotten worse,” Hill said. “A statewide system would create a database of your prescription drug use — the state has no business maintaining it, and the state could give that list to the federal government.”
After a brief discussion with Rep. Don Rone, who voiced his support of the bill, a previous question motion was moved and the bill was approved by the body.
“Our rural communities have been overrun by opioid drugs,” said Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins. “This will not solve the problem alone, but it can make it much harder for people to get addicted to pain medication in the first place. We thank Sen. Holly Rehder for her tireless work on this issue over the past decade, as well as all those legislators who voted to give our doctors this needed tool.”
The bill would also restrict the database from being used by agencies that can prevent Missourians from owning firearms or to establish probable cause for a criminal investigation. Individuals disclosing information for illegal purposes would face a class E felony charge.
Missouri is the only state not to have a statewide PDMP; St. Louis County has its own version which covers 85 percent of the state.
Last year’s attempt made it to the final week of session, but was laid over on the final day of session after the upper chamber’s conversation broke down over changes from the House.
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org.