The Senate passed the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act
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The Senate passed the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act

Date: April 2, 2015
By: Krista Gmelich
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate passed a bill to make Missouri the final state to establish a state prescription drug monitoring program.  The bill would allow a government database to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of narcotic-type drugs.

Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles County, called bill's passage an important step. 

"For the first time in several years we found a way to work through the privacy concerns and pass legislation instituting a prescription drug monitoring program," Dempsey said.

Under the provisions of the bill, pharmacists and other dispensors of medicine would be required to send information to the State Data Center for the prescriptions of some controlled substances like narcotic-type drugs.  The state would then review that information and if there appears to be a violation of law or professional standards, notify law enforcement or the appropriate professional regulatory body. 

However, the information obtained from the prescription drug database alone cannot be the used as grounds for an arrest or a search warrant.

Sen. Tom Dempsey said the intent behind the bill is to make Missouri a safer state.

"I think where it's really going to make a difference are those drugs that are related to pain management which are highly addictive and in many cases are combined with other narcotics leading to deaths," Dempsey said.

The bill's sponsor -- David Sater, R-Cassville -- said that there is an increasing problem with drug abuse among the teenage population.

"It's a major problem for the abusers and also for our kids," Sater said.  "And we have a growing problem with opiate abuse in our teenage population also."

But legislators voiced privacy concerns, especially as there have been problems with prescription drug programs in other states. 

"I took an oath to the Constitution," said Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar.  "I still believe this is an unconstitutional provision and so I still, regardless of the work that's been done to try to avoid the pitfalls of the other states, I still believe we as a body should reject it."

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County, compared passing this bill to opening Pandora's Box.

"Because we've been told we're the only state, because we've been told all these great this will be accumulated and we'll be in a much better place, that curiousity, that momentum has driven us to this place and it is my concern that we are indeed opening Pandora's Box with this bill," Schmitt said.

The bill was passed 24-10 and now awaits vote in the House.

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