JEFFERSON CITY — A bill that would create a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) in Missouri survived a Senate hearing on Monday but still faces the final obstacle it has been unable to overcome for the past seven years.

The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted to pass House Bill 1693 out of committee by a vote of 4-2. The bill, proposed by Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, would establish the “Narcotics Control Act.”

The bill would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to create a statewide electronic prescription monitoring database. Similar databases exist in all 49 other states. The bill would require medical providers to track prescriptions for drugs with the potential for abuse in order.

“The PDMP allows providers to seek and study trends in their patients’ narcotic history,” Rehder said. “We need our medical professionals to be able to recognize and identify these concerning trends before the patient gets too far down the road.”

Rehder said this is her eighth year working on the bill, which died in the Senate last year. It faced opposition from members of the conservative caucus, who cited concerns about privacy, according to previous Missourian reporting.

“PDMP is a tool for medical professionals to use for the same reasons as other electronic medical records: patient safety, better prescribing practices and overall allowing the medical professional to understand their own patients’ history,” Rehder said.

Drug data would be subject to the same HIPAA protections as other medical information, and under the bill, the unauthorized sharing of data would be a class E felony.

In 2016, St. Louis County passed a PDMP program. Since then, 75 jurisdictions across the state, including Columbia, have joined in — covering 85% of Missourians. Rehder said she hoped a statewide bill would help fill gaps and bring uniform privacy protections.

Sen. Bob Onder, R-St. Charles, said he still has concerns about the efficacy of the bill.

“An opioid could be prescribed entirely appropriately but stolen from Grandma or Mom or Dad’s medicine cabinet,” he said. “PDMP is not going to stop that.”

John Lilly, a doctor from Springfield, shared similar concerns.

“The deaths have not gone down even though the entire country has a PDMP,” Lilly said.

But in 2018, overdose deaths nationally dropped 4.2%, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Missouri saw a 17.7% increase.

Lobbyists from a large number of health care related groups, including the Missouri Nurses Association, SSM Health, Missouri Family Physicians, Missouri Association of Rural Health Clinics and Washington University Medical School, went on the record in support of the bill.

  • I'm an assistant city editor. This is my junior year at MU, where I study investigative reporting and political science. Interests include local journalism, breakfast food and good books. Email with any story tips.

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