The Missouri House of Representatives passed legislation on Monday to create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.
The program, designed to prevent opioid abuse, was approved 98-56. The measure now moves to the Senate, where it has failed in recent years at least partially because some members say it is an invasion of privacy and they do not want to create a government list.
More than 80% of the state’s population is covered under St. Louis County’s PDMP, and this measure would essentially expand that statewide, with added protections.
“The precautions we put in this bill that is not in the St. Louis County program to address privacy … is that our narcotics control act cannot be used for the sole basis for issue of a warrant,” said Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, who sponsored the measure. “This bill mandates that the search of a PDMP cannot be used as the basis for denying someone access to a firearm.”
Missouri is the only state in the country that does not have a statewide program, but some legislators argue passing one will drive people to the illicit market, spiking the number of overdose deaths.
“That’s assuming that addiction starts with opioids, but the data I just received from the state indicates that three times more people are overdosing on illicit drugs,” said Rep. Justin Hall, R-Lake St. Louis. “If you truly want to save lives, you’re going to hit the red (no) button.”
Rehder, who has sponsored the measure for years, rebuts that claim.
“To say that all of these states that have passed this and the Trump administration that is pushing for these are to blame for the deaths is reckless … and ridiculous,” she said.