JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A proposed program that would monitor Missourians' prescription drug purchases has stalled in the Missouri Senate.
House Bill 188 - The Narcotics Act, also known as the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) sponsored by Rep. Holly Rehder (R - Sikeson) has been laid over in the Missouri Senate.
If HB 188 is approved by the Senate, it would allow the Department of Health and Senior Services to establish a statewide Narcotics Control Program for monitoring the prescribing and dispensing of all Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances to all Missouri citizens. Missouri is the only state in the U.S. that does not have a PDMP.
Rehder claims HB 188 could combat prescription drug abuse, which is one of fastest growing epidemics in the U.S. She believes it will provide prescribers a tool to find and address abuses and subsequently cut down on "doctor shopping" (the practice in which drug abusers go from doctor to doctor to obtain more prescriptions).
“The bill is being filibustered in the Senate by the Conservative Caucus,” a representative from Holly Rehder’s office said on Wednesday. The Senators causing the delay include Cindy O’Laughlin (R - Shelbina), Andrew Koenig (R - Kirkwood), Bill Eigel (R - Weldon Spring), Bob Onder (R - Lake St. Louis) and Eric Burlison (R - Springfield). “They are not allowing it to come to the floor. We would like to see the PDMP get passed and sent to the governor.”
“Rehder is the Chairman of Rules Committee in the Missouri House of Representatives and she was holding all the Senate bills hostage until they passed her PDMP bill,” Rep. Suzie Pollock (R - 123 -- Camdenton) said. “I am a member of the Conservative Caucus and they were filibustering until [the bill was] laid over, and everything came to a screeching halt. They were finally working on a few bills on Wednesday, May 8, but I don’t see the PDMP bill passing this year.” According to Pollock, there have been several meetings trying to get the two sides to work together. “It is amazing how a chairmanship can hold everything hostage,” Pollock said, adding, “It is the citizens' right to know the games that are being played.”
Rehder declined to comment on Wednesday.
The Missouri House of Representatives passed HB 188 on February 11, with a vote of 103 yes and 53 no. From the Lake of the Ozarks area, Rep. David Wood (R-58) and Rep. Rocky Miller Rep. (R-124) voted Yes; Rep. Suzie Pollock (R-123) voted No.
Opponents of HB 188 say PDMPs have not worked in other states, arguing the government monitoring of individuals' prescription drug purchasing is an invasion of privacy and Fourth Amendment violation, with no useful outcome. Their main contention is that it has not worked in other states and the private health information of law-abiding citizens could be compromised, sold, and possibly used against them.
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Rehder has refused to allow multiple proposed amendments to HB 188, fearing the bill would not pass, if changed. These proposed amendments include a provision that would require doctors to actually access the database before prescribing a prescription, pharmacists to access the database before filling a prescription and limiting the database to only patients that receive opioids. At this time, if HB 188 is approved, a database would be collected on patients who receive prescriptions such as Ritalin, sleep aids and anti-depressants. Another proposed amendment limiting access to the database to only licensed medical personnel was also rejected by Rehder.
“Those who are on opioids for pain management are afraid that their access to legal and needed pain relief will be affected negatively, even more than it is already, because of those who abuse opioids,” Concerned Women for America Missouri Director Bev Ehlen said. “This is typical of government to punish everyone for the actions of a few. This is why civil government makes such bad parents. I love that we have some sensible Senators that are standing in the gap for the people of Missouri, because they know the PDMP is not what we think it is,” Ehlen added.
Some opponents also cite concerns that the government would use a prescription drug database to determine who might have a mental illness and eventually have power to seize their firearms.
HB 188 was laid over in the Senate Tuesday, May 7, which could put an end to the question until the 2020 legislative session. The last day of session for the Missouri Senate is Monday, May 17.