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Missouri House Democrats file bills targeting opioid crisis

Missouri House Democrats announced multiple bills aimed at addressing the opioid addiction crisis in the state. The bills include establishing a prescription drug monitoring database, increasing training and oversight for prescribers and improving access to addition treatment services.

“Opioid addiction is a complex problem that requires multifaceted solutions,” House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty said. “House Democrats have crafted legislation to address several aspects of the opioid crisis with the aim of preventing addiction to the extent possible and providing support to Missouri families grappling with opioid abuse.”

Rep. Fred Wessels, D-St. Louis, will sponsor legislation to create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP, to track the use of prescription narcotics.

In the 2017 legislative session, the House and Senate passed bills establishing a PDMP, however they were not wholly agreed upon. Republican Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order over the summer allowing for the limited tracking of certain prescription information handled by one benefits provider.

Missouri remains the only state in the nation without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.

“The governor’s order does nothing to identify and combat doctor shopping and other issues that a true prescription drug monitoring program is needed to address,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis. “Missouri cannot afford to let another year pass without taking this common-sense step already taken by every other state.”

Mitten has also filed two bills related to the issue. House Bill 1472 would require pharmacies to post information regarding methods and locations for the safe disposal of unused medication. Under House Bill 1473, in order to renew their licenses, medical professionals with prescribing authority would be required to undergo a minimum four hours of training on the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs and how to recognize drug addiction in patients.

House Bill 1310, filed by state Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, would require the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to promulgate regulations consistent with federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain.

House Bill 1636, sponsored by state Rep. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, would require insurance coverage of medication-assisted treatment and remove insurer-proposed barriers to addiction services.

“Committing to beat addiction is difficult and brave,” Arthur said. “We must guarantee that anyone who seeks treatment receives it. This legislation eliminates barriers to MAT, a highly effective tool for individuals battling opioid addiction.”

House Bill 1467, sponsored by state Rep. Martha Stevens, D-Columbia, would establish a sterile needle and syringe exchange pilot program to help prevent the spread of disease through intravenous drug use. No state funds would be used for the program, but the Health Department would be authorized to accept outside funding for its administration.

“There are 13 counties in Missouri on the CDC’s list of the top 5 percent of U.S. counties most at risk for an HIV outbreak,” Stevens said. “This is why needle exchange programs are so necessary for our state. It is an effective harm reduction policy that must be utilized to slow down the consequences of the opioid epidemic.”

House Bill 1616, sponsored by state Rep. Cora Faith Walker, D-St. Louis County, requires the Show-Me-Healthy Babies program to cover substance abuse treatment for women for one year postpartum.

“Women suffering from substance use disorders postpartum need access to treatment so they can recover and be able to take care of their children and families.” Walker said.

And finally, House Bill 1441, sponsored by state Rep. Donna Baringer, D-St. Louis, would expand the uses for which doctors are authorized to prescribe hemp extract oil, also known as CBD oil. The oil is used to treat epilepsy and a variety other conditions but also can be used as an alternative to pain management for those with a history of opioid addiction.

“CBD oil offers an option to recovering addicts or those who do not want to use opioids when recovering from cancer while taking chemo or myriad other procedures,” Baringer said.

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