Missouri is the lone state in the country that refuses to keep a database of the drugs that are prescribed to patients, much to the chagrin of the people who are tasked with trying to stop the prescription drug abuse epidemic in the United States.
Not having such a database hampers Missouri’s ability to combat prescription drug abuse and also attracts people from neighboring states looking to stockpile pills and bring them home to either abuse or sell to others, according to law enforcement officials, legislators and data compiled by a prescription drug processing firm.
Drug monitoring program procedures and powers vary from one state to another, but they all require doctors, pharmacists or both to enter all prescriptions into a database that can be consulted later to make sure patients do not get excess medication. In some states, checking the database is mandatory.
Missouri has been urged to put a database into effect by Missouri medical associations, members of Congress from neighboring states, the White House and even Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, the St. Louis-based manufacturer of oft-abused prescription painkiller oxycodone.
But attempts to establish one so far have been blocked by a small group of lawmakers led by State Senator Rob Schaaf, a family physician who argues that allowing the government to keep prescription records violates personal privacy.
“There’s some people who say you are causing people to die — but I’m not causing people to die. I’m protecting other people’s liberty,” Schaaf said in a recent interview in his Senate office. “Missouri needs to be the first state to resist, and the other states need to follow suit and protect the liberty of their own citizens.”
Schaaf’s opposition has come under sharp criticism from fellow Republicans, including representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky, one of eight states that borders Missouri.
“It’s very selfish on Missouri’s part to hang their hat on this privacy matter,” Rogers said. “The rest of us suffer.”