Two of mid-Missouri’s largest cities voted to approve prescription drug monitoring programs Monday night.
Columbia approved the program hours after Jefferson City made the vote official.
Jefferson City Council hopes the program will help battle a growing opioid epidemic in mid-Missouri.
On Monday night, members voted to pass Bill #2016-114, introduced at a council meeting last month.
The ordinance requires Jefferson City pharmacies and other drug distributors to join St. Louis County’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP.)
It’s designed to identify people who are a potential addiction risk or taking part in illegal drug activity.
Last week, ABC 17 News reported Cole County had already created a similar program.
Cole County officials are now offering to cover the first-year cost for Jefferson City to operate the monitoring program.
It comes as two bills related to prescription drug monitoring programs make their way through the state Legislature. Missouri is the only state in the nation without prescription drug monitoring program.
“I think it reduces the types that are on the streets in large quantities right now, because of the lack of access by doctors and pharmacists to be able to determine whether people are getting multiple prescriptions in illegal ways,” said prescription drug monitoring advocate, Jim Marshall.
Under PDMP, prescribers will have to register and meet eligibility requirements.
The Columbia City Council voted unanimously to join with the same PDMP, run through the vendor Appriss. Columbia/Boone County Health Department director Stephanie Browning said the inclusion of Boone and Cole counties to the program, which also includes St. Charles County and Kansas City, would cover 46 percent of the state.
“We have a number of first-class counties, including the city of Columbia and Boone County, that will join that system and hopefully give law enforcement, as well as prescribers, doctors, pharmacists the tools they need to know who is illicitly soliciting very addictive Oxycodone, Oxycontin, drugs that eventually end up either hurting themselves or hurting others,” Mayor Brian Treece said after the meeting.
Two people questioned the effectiveness of the program. Missouri is the only state without a statewide PDMP, but Beverly Fries brought up the rising rates of deaths related to opioid addiction and overdose throughout the country. The city will pay $26,206.65 by January 31, 2018 to St. Louis County to join the program. Roger Fries said the money may not be well spent on the program without much study into its effect on opioid addiction.
“I think when people get a taste of their narcotics…they get it somewhere else,” Fries said.
Treece thought it was still an important step for the state to make towards the fight against painkiller addiction. Some pharmacists told ABC 17 News in the past that a statewide program would be more beneficial than programs set up locally to catch and help abusers. Treece said he does not know if painkiller abuse is as big of a problem in smaller counties, but the assembly of a large network may put more pressure on state lawmakers.
“I think what you’re going to see here is those [uncovered] counties put more pressure on their state legislators, their state senator, their state representative for the state to adopt that prescription drug monitoring program that we desperately need,” Treece said.
Browning said St. Louis County would apply for a federal grant in April to help fund the full extent of the PDMP and would learn if it received the funds in the fall. Receiving the grant would mean Columbia pays nothing towards the PDMP.