Prescription drug monitoring dies in Missouri's Senate
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Prescription drug monitoring dies in Missouri's Senate

Date: May 3, 2012
By: Jordan Shapiro
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 1193 SB 710

JEFFERSON CITY - After an eight hour filibuster by the Senate's only medical doctor, a bill to create a prescription drug monitoring program is dead.

Although the Senate gave first-round passage to the measure, Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said the bill creating a government database of medications prescribed to patients will not be considered for final approval given the lack of time remaining in the legislative session.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, led the effort against the bill and said prescription drug monitoring by the government would be an infringement of a patient's right to privacy.

"This bill causes every citizen to be forced against their will to give up their privacy and their personal information," Schaaf said.

The measure is sponsored by Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, and creates a database of people on certain drugs for doctors to check before writing prescriptions. The drugs that would be included in the database are mostly narcotics and pain killers. A patient's name and information would have been purged from the database after six months.

Engler confirmed the issue would not advance further and said more Missourians are going to die from overdoses because of it.

He said the database would help weed out people addicted to narcotics, who "doctor shop" and get multiple prescriptions from different doctors.

"Prescription drugs are being abused. It's the number one drug abuse problem in the country. We are going to be the only state that doesn't monitor prescription drugs in the country," Engler said.

Schaaf began his filibuster early Thursday afternoon and allowed the bill to come to a vote only after a compromise to put the issue on the ballot was reached. As a doctor, Schaaf said he would like to have prescription drug monitoring, but as a citizen he could not allow the issue to pass.

"My citizen hat is stronger than my doctor hat," he said.      

Schaaf rejected Engler's argument that his legislation would actually prevent an overdose.

"If they overdose and kill themselves, it just removes them from the gene pool," Schaaf said.

Although they will not get a chance to vote this year, Schaaf added that he thought the voters would "soundly reject" the issue.

Every state except Missouri and New Hampshire have adopted a prescription drug monitoring database of some sort.

The Senate would have had to approve the measure one more time before sending the bill to the House, which passed similar legislation overwhelmingly earlier this year. The legislative session ends May 18.  

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