Missouri is the only state that does not have a prescription drug monitoring database, The New York Times reports. The state’s decision not to use such a drug-tracking tool has hampered efforts to fight prescription drug abuse.
People from neighboring states are coming to Missouri to stockpile pills and bring them home to use themselves or to sell to others, the newspaper reports.
The databases are used to identify people who go “doctor shopping” for multiple painkiller or tranquilizer prescriptions, and the physicians who overprescribe these medications. Almost all states either allow or require pharmacists to enter filled prescriptions into the database. Doctors or pharmacists review the data before deciding to fill another prescription. Rules vary from state to state. Forty-eight states have operational databases, and New Hampshire will begin using its database this year.
Missouri medical associations, members of Congress from neighboring states and the White House have urged state legislators to use a drug monitoring database.
A small group of legislators has blocked a measure to establish a database. The group, led by State Senator Rob Schaaf, who is a family physician, says the database would violate personal privacy. “There’s some people who say you are causing people to die — but I’m not causing people to die. I’m protecting other people’s liberty,” Mr. Schaaf told the newspaper “Missouri needs to be the first state to resist, and the other states need to follow suit and protect the liberty of their own citizens.”
“Welcome to Missouri – America’s Drugstore,” said Dr. Douglas Char, an emergency room physician in St. Louis. “We aren’t just allowing abuse, we’ve created a business model for dealers.” Added Bob Twillman, the Deputy Executive Director of the American Academy of Pain Management, “I’ve told legislators that I know they want to increase tourism, but not this kind of tourism.”