WHAT OTHERS SAY: State database would curb prescription drug abuse

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST

Credit Missouri representatives with advancing a proposal to curb the abuse of prescription drugs.

The House has approved and sent to the Senate a bill to create a prescription drug database designed to eliminate “doctor shopping” to obtain multiple prescriptions, which then are abused or sold.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, called Missouri the “doctor-shopping capital for the country.” He added: “This is killing people in Missouri, and we can do something to help.”

Like-minded lawmakers shared accounts of family members or friends who suffered consequences associated with prescription drug abuse and addiction.

Opponents, however, fear creation of a statewide database could compromise personal privacy.

Under the legislation, pharmacies would submit prescription information — including the name of the patient, doctor, drug and dosage details — to a database maintained by the state Department of Health and Senior Services.

The database would be confidential, but information could be shared with physicians, pharmacies, regulators and law enforcement officers authorized by subpoenas or court orders.

Illegally disclosing information would be a crime punishable by up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine.

Based on the experiences of other states that have established such programs, funding for the database is expected to come from gifts, grants and donations.

The federal Office of National Drug Control Policy characterizes the abuse of prescription drugs as “a serious public health and public safety problem.”

How serious?

The website WebMD reports “an estimated 48 million people (aged 12 and older), according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in their lifetime.

That figure represents approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in prescription drug misuse or abuse.

This increase has led to a corresponding increase in ER visits because of accidental overdoses as well as admissions to drug treatment programs for drug addictions.”

We’re sensitive to privacy issues, but a greater concern is human misery caused by prescription drug abuse, addiction and overdoses, as well as the social costs of emergency room visits and treatment.

We encourage lawmakers to join the majority of other states and pass this legislation.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.


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