Competing drug monitoring programs designed either to pass General Assembly or fail ballot vote

Mar 7, 2013

Two bills that would create a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri received a hearing today before a State Senate committee. But one of the bills is structured in a way that’s designed to block the proposal.

Physician and GOP Senator Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph is an outspoken critic of prescription drug monitoring. He says it would violate citizens’ privacy rights.

“But I have agreed to carry the bill, given that it goes to a vote of the people, and that nothing will be construed to require a pharmacist or prescriber to obtain information about a patient from the database," Schaaf says.

Schaaf admits that his strategy is to pass a version of the bill that voters will likely defeat at the polls. The other version would not require voter approval. 

Supporters of a monitoring program say it would help combat doctor shopping, where drug addicts or dealers try to get multiple prescriptions of Oxycontin or similar controlled substances.

Doctor Joseph Forand of St. Louis testified in favor of the version that bypasses a vote of the people. He says a drug monitoring program will help combat doctor shopping in Missouri.

“One family practitioner told me he was hiring a new partner… He said he told her to expect that one in two of the new patients would be drug seekers," Forand says. "I also have a neurosurgeon friend – he says 50 percent of his new patients are drug seekers.”

Opponents testified that a prescription drug monitoring program would violate citizens’ privacy rights and that their medical information could wind up in the hands of other government agencies. 

No action has been taken yet on either bill.