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Health experts frustrated with legislative inaction on opioids

Missouri is now the only state in the country without an established electronic prescription drug monitoring database.

Posted: May 21, 2019 8:42 PM
Updated: May 22, 2019 2:00 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Those fighting the opioid epidemic in St. Joseph say they are frustrated with state lawmakers after the legislative session ended without a mandatory prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP).

This is the 7th year in a row efforts have failed. Missouri is now the only state in the country without an established electronic PDMP to help track and curb the availability of opioids.

“How many people have to die from the opioid epidemic before the state opens up their eyes and says, ‘You know what? Enough is enough,'” said Mark Puckett, the founder of the Saint Kolbe-Puckett Center for Healing, an opioid addiction treatment clinic in St. Joseph.

Local pharmacists say they feel helpless not being able to check if customers have also gone to other pharmacies to get prescription opiates in an effort to double up on their supply.  

“It's terribly frustrating to us, I mean we are to the point that if we don't trust the prescription or prescriber or it’s from a foreign source we just won't fill it,” said Rex Robinson, a pharmacist at Roger's Pharmacy in St. Joseph.

As it currently stands in Missouri, patients can get their same prescription filled at multiple pharmacies..

“Right now in Missouri you can ‘doctor shop’ and have all of your prescriptions filled at different pharmacies or utilize the prescription,” said Puckett. “The problem is we are creating that market, people are coming to Missouri strictly to ‘doctor shop.”

Robinson agreed, saying he'd like there to be more control over the availability of opioids.

“It would be nice to be on the same page as everyone else to make this problem go away or at least make it less significant,” said Robinson.

Representative Sheila Solon (R-St. Joseph) worked unsuccessfully with her fellow Republican, State Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Platte City) to try and pass a PDMP bill in the recently-ended legislative session.

“This is something we desperately need in our state,” said Solon, “The root of our crime is drugs, that’s the root of the crime that we are facing in St. Joe and Across our state.”

“If you can’t track it, you can't control it,” said Puckett.

The bill to enforce a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri got 82 votes in the House but was struck down in the Senate.

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