JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a highly-anticipated program to create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP, with the legislation now headed to the governor’s desk.
Sponsored by Sen. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, Senate Bill 63 would establish the Joint Oversight Task Force of Prescription Drug Monitoring, which would collect and maintain a database on controlled substance prescriptions. It’s an attempt to prevent opioid addiction and overdoses by monitoring drug prescriptions.
During House debate Tuesday, Rep. Justin Hill, R-St. Charles said that despite not having a PDMP, Missouri does not rank number one in overdose cases. The state was the 14th state with more overdose deaths, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The lawmaker suggested that illicit narcotic use was the main problem to regulate, not prescribed usage, and he argued that creating a database — which has been debated for several years in the legislature — infringes on the rights of individuals who are prescribed the medication.
“This really hasn’t changed in seven years because we’re No. 1 in freedom, but we’re not No. 1 in overdoses,” Hill said. “Because, you know, ever since we haven’t approved a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, this issue has not happened.”
Dispensers across the state would be responsible to submit a patient’s prescriptions into the PDMP within 24 hours of prescribing medications, and the information would be kept on the platform for up to three years. According to the bill text, the Task Force would execute a bid process to find a vendor to provide the infrastructure for the proposed database. The vendor shall protect the patients’ information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and the data will be considered a closed record under state law.
The bill includes $1,000 penalties to dispensaries that fail to submit prescriptions to the database, and creates a Class E felony for the disclosure of any information for illegal purposes.
The bill approved Tuesday was the result of almost a decade of debate and opposition. In fact, Rehder has tried to pass similar legislation since 2012, and last year, HB 1673, that would have created a PDMP for Missouri, was rejected in the last day of session.
Tuesday’s debate on the bill concluded with a 96 to 64 vote, with bipartisan support to pass the legislation to Parson’s office. Many lawmakers applauded when the final tally was announced.
If finally signed, the regulation would cover the whole state. Currently, St. Louis County has a local version of a PDMP which covers over 85% of Missouri, including Boone County.
Rehder told the Missouri Times after the vote that “clearly, I don’t give up easily.
“I’m very thankful for the bipartisan support — this bill is not about politics, it’s about families and those struggling with substance use disorder.”