Prescription drug database doomed in Senate

May 4, 2012

 A Missouri senator has successfully killed a bill that would have authorized a government database to track people's prescription drug purchases.

Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf and his allies led an eight-hour filibuster Thursday against the legislation before supporters finally caved in. Schaaf, who's also a physician, said the bill would have violated citizens' privacy – a bigger concern, he said, than protecting people who abuse prescription drugs.

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

Supporters said the database would have helped stop "doctor shopping," in which people get prescriptions from multiple doctors to feed their drug habits. Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey co-sponsored the measure, and said he tried to reach compromise over privacy concerns.

"There were further efforts to tighten the bill, so that we're just getting to the problem people. We're not trying to create this big database to watch what people are buying, but really get to the people who are killing themselves."

The legislation died in an odd procedural way. Senators capitulated to Schaaf's demand to attach a clause that would send the question to voters. But then Dempsey declared that the bill would not receive a final vote before the legislative session ends May 18.