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Bill for prescription drug monitoring program passes committee

A bill called the Narcotics Control Act passed through a select house committee Thursday, moving the bill that would establish a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri to the house floor.

Missouri is the only state in the country without such a program.

Other lawmakers have tried passing similar bills in previous legislative sessions, but those bills have always filed.

Rep. Holly Rehder, (R)-Sikeston, the sponsor of the Narcotics Control Act, told ABC 17 News she thought the bill has a chance of passing this session because of the change in senate leadership and an increased awareness of the growing heroin and opioid epidemic.

Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses increased 137 percent in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2014, nearly 1,100 people died in Missouri from drug overdoses.

“We have this epidemic across America where you know you have three out of four heroin users who all started from prescription drug abuse,” Rep. Rehder said.

House bill 1892, or the Narcotics Control Act, would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to create a program to monitor prescription drugs. Under the bill, Missouri pharmacists would have to submit information into a database within seven days of filling a prescription.

Last week, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D)-MO, held a field hearing in Jefferson City to highlight the opioid epidemic.

“We’re the outlier here,” McCaskill said. “Common sense tells me if there’s 49 states on one side and one on the other, I think we’re the ones that have it wrong.”

But not everyone is in support of the bill. Sen. Rob Schaff, (R)-St. Joseph, who is also a doctor, has voiced opposition of the bill along with similar bills in past sessions.

In 2012, Schaff said, “The people don’t want the government tracking what medications they are taking – that is private information that should stay between a patient and a doctor.”

But Rep. Rehder said the bill would not violate Missourians’ privacy.

“This is no more invasive than electronic medical records,” Rehder said. “Everyone on Missouri’s medicaid system has been in a similar database and there’s never been a problem.”

If the bill is passed, Rehder said it could help doctors spot early addiction habits and address them.

Tuesday, Sen. Schaaf prefiled a bill that would also establish a prescription drug monitoring program, but doctors and pharmacists would not be able to see medication lists in the database.

The Narcotics Control Act could go to the house floor as soon as next week, according to Rep. Rehder.

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