JEFFERSON CITY — House lawmakers approved a compromise to enact a statewide prescription drug monitoring act, setting the stage for a potential end to an eight-year battle.
Approved by a vote of 94-59, the Narcotics Control Act would establish a statewide electronic prescription-monitoring database to track the prescription of drugs with potential for abuse. Missouri is the only state without such a program.
Currently, a monitoring program led by St. Louis County covers 75 jurisdictions, about 85% of Missourians, according to previous reporting.
In order for the bill to reach the governor’s desk, the Senate must also approve the legislation. An earlier version of the bill was passed by the body in March. It has failed to reach the finish line for seven years.
The version of the bill the House approved Wednesday came out of a conference committee, where lawmakers from both the House and the Senate worked together to negotiate a compromise.
Initially, the Senate version of the bill included a clause to make knowingly distributing, delivering, manufacturing or producing more than 10 milligrams of fentanyl a Class B felony. The new version does not include the clause.
House Minority Floor Leader Crystal Quade praised the compromise. She said previously that her caucus did not support the legislation because of fears that the fentanyl provision would criminalize drug users as traffickers.
Several Republican lawmakers expressed concerns that the program would allow insurance companies to access Missourians’ private data, potentially paving the way for increased insurance premiums.
Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, the sponsor of the House bill, said such a misuse of data would be impossible under the legislation.
“This medical data is not allowed to be sold. It’s absolutely ridiculous that that was even said,” Rehder said. “All of the people who are allowed to access this PDMP are licensed and have to follow HIPPA law. They are medical professionals.”
The bill gathered votes from both sides of the aisle, however, and Rep. Warren Love, R-Ocala, quipped that the lawmakers worried about privacy probably had iPhones in their pockets.
Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake St. Louis, compared the oversight the bill would provide to the safety measures enacted in response to COVID-19.
“If you’ve enjoyed this experience under COVID-19, of the government telling you to wear a mask, if you’re essential or not ... , then I guess you’re OK with this bill,” Hill said, “because that’s what this bill is.”