With the stroke of his pen June 7, Gov. Mike Parson made Missouri the last state in the nation to implement a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Rather than chide public officials over the length of time it took to get this done, we instead commend them. Supporters of the measure fought long and hard to get it passed.

Sen. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, has sponsored the bill in the Senate for the past nine years. It’s always had a good amount of support but, until this year, not enough.

We understand some members of the legislature and the public were against the program. Many of the opponents have cited concerns over the privacy of patient information.

The bill, which becomes law Aug. 28, will require a task force to select a vendor to operate a prescription drug monitoring program for schedule 2, 3 and 4 controlled substances in the state.

The vendor will be responsible for patient dispensation information collection and maintenance and will be required to operate under rules and regulations created by the oversight task force. The vendor can maintain patient information for up to three years.

Patient dispensation information collected by the vendor can be accessed statewide by prescribers, dispensers and other health care providers and is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

We get the privacy concerns of opponents. We’re not fans of government intervening in our lives any more than needed. But we believe the benefit of being able to put a stop to practices such as doctor shopping more than outweighs any potential downsides.

Parson, as we have reported, said the legislation was long overdue.

“This is just another tool that we’re going to be able to use to help us fight when it comes to opioids, when it comes to the law enforcement community, when it comes to the medical community, and how we do that better,” the governor said.

Our state has suffered greatly from opioid abuse, and we believe this program will be a valuable tool to combat such abuse in the future.

This was first published by the Jefferson City News Tribune and distributed by The Associated Press.

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