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Missouri Senate passes prescription drug monitoring program, with some changes

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee's Summit

After hours of debate Thursday evening, the Missouri Senate passed the bill that would create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program by a 22-9 vote. But opponents added language that could be problematic when the bill returns to the House in the final weeks of the 2017 session. 

Missouri is the only state in the U.S. without a prescription drug monitoring program, and Gov. Eric Greitens has said he backs the creation of one.

House Bill 90/68 is seen as a way to combat the country's opioid painkiller crisis, and would allow doctors to view a patient’s prescription records to see if he or she is getting multiple prescriptions for the same medicine — a practice referred to as “doctor shopping.”

One of the amendments, sponsored by Republican Sen. Will Kraus of Lee's Summit, would require a patient’s data be purged after six months. 

“Obviously, databases are an issue for me,” he said. “The thing I hate is the fact that this is going to keep people’s information that have done nothing wrong.”

Fellow Republican Sen. David Sater of Cassville, a retired pharmacist, argued that six months was too short to be able to tell whether a patient has a history of abusing prescription drugs.

Sater added: “If you’ve done nothing wrong, there’ll be no red flags that come up.” 

Kraus retorted: “Don’t give me the ‘government is going to take care of me’ stuff because that doesn’t work … I want government out of my life, I don’t want government tracking me, I don’t want government knowing what I’m doing.”

The bill’s original opponent, Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, also amended it to mandate all doctors use the monitoring program with exceptions, including attending to a patient just admitted to a hospital and giving a patient a controlled substance in an emergency room.

Credit Tim Bommel I House Communications
Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston.

But it's the six-month data purge that might be a nonstarter. Republican Rep. Holly Rehder of Sikeston, who has sponsored PDMP bills for a few years and and has several family members who've battled addiction, said she plans to meet with the medical lobby to gauge their opinion. 

She also criticized Kraus and others for demanding the provision.

“Several of the senators just don’t understand addiction,” she said. “This bill is for physicians to be able to spot the signs of addiction on the front end, and if the data is purged every 180 days, then that takes that away from them.”

Some local governments in Missouri have started their own programs in the absence of a statewide one, including St. Louis, St. Louis County, and Kansas City.

All nine "no" votes Thursday came from Republicans with a history of speaking out against what they view as government overreach.

Follow Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.