The only doctor in the Senate vows to kill prescription drug monitoring program
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The only doctor in the Senate vows to kill prescription drug monitoring program

Date: January 25, 2012
By: Josie Butler
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB1193

JEFFERSON CITY - The only licensed physician in the Missouri state Senate vows to strike down a bill that would create a prescription drug monitoring program.

"If it comes to the Senate, it will pass only if they can overcome my filibuster," said, Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph.

The legislation would create an electronic log to monitor patient prescription use.

"This bill would require that a pharmacist submit to the Department of Health and Senior Services data regarding prescriptions for scheduled drugs," the bill's sponsor, Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla, said to a House Committee.

Scheduled drugs are categorized by the federal government as those with "abuse and risk potential," Frederick said. Examples of scheduled drugs include strong painkillers such as Oxycodone and Vicodin. Pharmacists would be required to record data into the database regarding these prescriptions every week. 

"I don't want my drug medication list on a database that big brother will have access to," Schaaf said. "It's a freedom issue and a privacy issue."

Physicians would have access to this database to view patient prescription history. The program has been created to prevent patients from getting multiple drug prescriptions from multiple physicians or pharmacies, also called "doctor shopping."

Frederick shared an example of "doctor shopping" from Illinois where a patient from Madison County went to eight different pharmacies and 13 different physicians to obtain 748 pills from 23 prescriptions.

"I think there is a very high likelihood that this is fraudulent and drug seeking behavior," Frederick said. "If this is happening in an adjacent county to Missouri, should we believe that it is not happening in Missouri?"

Frederick said he worries that people from other states could take advantage of the fact that Missouri does not have a monitoring program.  

"We must take whatever steps we can to prevent abuse and misuse," said Stephen Littlejohn, vice president of communications and public affairs at Covidien Pharmaceuticals. "We think it is important for Missouri to join the rest of the nation."

Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, testified against the bill, saying he is worried about the possibility of creating another "pot of information" that could be stolen. Frederick said this has not been an issue in the other states that have used this program.

"The information is confidential," Frederick said. "There are penalties built in for the inappropriate use or distribution of this information."

If the bill is passed, sharing prescription information would become a class A misdemeanor.  

The House committee has not yet voted on the bill.

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