Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order Monday to set up a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, ending Missouri's status as the final state in the nation without such a database.
The order also bypasses another round of debate in the Missouri legislature, which came close to establishing a broad program during the regular session, but failed. Several cities and counties already have set up their own monitoring program.
Greitens announced the order Monday at a news conference in St. Louis. The order directs the database to be built by the Department of Health and Senior Services, with help from St. Louis-based, pharmacy benefit management company Express Scripts and other "private-sector" partners. Greitens said it'll take $250,000 in state money to set up the database.
"Opioids are a modern plague," Greitens said. "And like the plague, opioids take their victims without regard for how rich or poor they are. ... There is not a corner of this state that hasn't been visited by this curse."
"Missouri is the only state in the country that until today did not have a prescription drug monitoring program," the Republican governor said. "Today, I'm here to tell you that we are taking action. We were sent here to fight for people, to protect people and that's exactly what we're going to do."
In the bi-state St. Louis region last year, at least 712 people died from opioid overdoses — nearly 200 more than the year before, according to the anti-addiction group NCADA St. Louis.
Two lawmakers, St. Joseph Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf and Siketon Republican Rep. Holly Rehder, were at the middle of the General Assembly's fight over trying to create a drug monitoring program. Schaaf didn't immediately return a request for comment.
This is a developing story.
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