STATE OF AFFAIRS: Missouri Still Only State in the Union Without Prescription Monitoring System
State Ranks 1st in Prescription Opioids Sold in Midwest
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – As the demand for opioids has risen in the U.S., so have the overdoses. The Centers for Disease Control analyzed causes of death from the National Vital Statistics System and found that prescription pain relievers and heroin were the leading cause in most of the 28,647 overdose deaths in 2014. Over the past decade, most states have adopted a prescription monitoring system to allow doctors and pharmacists to view a patient’s prescription history before writing or filling another prescription. Only one has not – the state of Missouri.
Opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 2000, which has several lawmakers concerned. Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) has introduced HB1922, which would set up a prescription drug registry in the state. However, that’s not Missouri’s only problem in the fight against drug abuse.
In 2014, uninsured patients accounted for 30% of all hospital visits for opioid overuse. This was a 10 year, 268% increase. Perhaps one of the issues that have made lawmakers take notice is the fact that the state ends up picking up the bill for most of these costs.
Perhaps another reason is the highly publicised suspension of Tiger quarterback Maty Mauk. A video surfaced of Mauk appearing to snort a white powder, but a teammate just this week told the St. Louis Dispatch the video is 2 years old. They report that Missouri suspended Mauk for the first time last September because he failed a drug test.
Mauk was arrested on 4 misdemeanor traffic offenses after an accident on his scooter and allegedly fled the scene with 2 females.
“Drug overdoses and prescription drug overdoses are definitely at epidemic levels,” Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges tells the Joplin Globe. “It is everything that is prescribed for pain, like hydrocodone and oxycontin. And there’s meth and other drugs, too.”
There were 5 deaths related in some way to drug overdoses in the county in 2014. In just one year’s time, that number has increased to around 2 per month last year.
“With an average of 51 deaths a day due to addiction painkillers, America is in a full-blown opioid abuse epidemic,” said U.S. Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.).
Long goes on to say that in the past decade, emergency room visits for opioids in the state have more than doubled. Another reason to put a prescription monitoring system in place.
“We get it through the House every year, but the hangup is in the Senate where they are concerned about privacy,” says Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
McCaskill says from a privacy standpoint, there’s not much difference between that and electronic medical records, which are already in place in the state.
Not having a prescription monitoring system not only hurts the state of Missouri, but neighboring states as well. People can cross over the state’s borders to obtain narcotics that can’t be traced or recorded.
While many are concerned about privacy, there is no evidence that a hack into the prescription drug monitoring systems of other states has occurred.
Research has found that as many as 3 out of 4 prescription opioid abusers eventually turn to heroin. And opioids aren’t the only problem.
Last year, the Ozark Drug Enforcement Team seized a record 19,000 grams of meth and 65,000 grams of marijuana, in addition to 20 grams of heroin.
Americans are responsible for consuming 80% of the entire world’s prescription painkillers while making up less than 5% of the world’s population. We join New Zealand in being one of only 2 countries on earth where Big Pharma is allowed to advertise prescription drugs on television.
Thank you to the lawmakers who have proposed this bill that would put a monitoring system in place to help those addicted, and hold over prescribing doctors accountable.