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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Missouri Needs Prescription Drug Monitoring

The need is real and the time is now. Or, at least, that is how we should all be looking at prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in the United States. All the evidence points to prescription opioids as being the tap root of the American opioid epidemic. Soaring opioid addiction rates, neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and staggering overdose deaths numbers can all be tied to a national prescription drug crisis. And, as efforts on both the state and federal level to make it harder to acquire and abuse prescription painkillers move forward, many addicts have turned to a cheaper, stronger and easier to find alternative.

Over the course of several years, all but one state has put some form of PDMP into effect, an online network that allows doctors, nurses and pharmacists identify doctor-shoppers and those who show signs of an opioid use disorder. If utilized, such systems can save lives by preventing overdose and help doctors determine which patients they should refer to addiction treatment services. Unfortunately, research tells us that PDMPs are extremely underutilized across the board by those working in the field of medicine.

It could easily be argued that rural America has been hit the hardest by the opioid epidemic, including states like Missouri. So you may be surprised to learn that Missouri is the only state to not pass PDMP legislation, CNBC reports. The lack of a PDMP in Missouri has not been for lack of trying, in fact, one member of the Missouri House of Representatives has been fighting for years to convince Missouri's government to create one.

Rep. Holly Rehder of Missouri, knows first-hand the havoc that prescription opioid abuse can cause. Her own daughter became an addict after receiving a prescription for opioid painkillers, according to the article. Rehder’s daughter would go on to give birth to a son who was found to have the deadly narcotics in his system.

"We've had 13 years of ups and downs. ... This is not what you would think, a middle-class suburban teen going to church, with both parents working. ... That's not who you think about when you think about addiction," said Rehder. "All it took was that first prescription. After that, she started buying at work. ... There's a plethora of these pills on the street."

Rehder’s experience is not unique, and highlights the importance of prescription drug monitoring programs. If doctors are better equipped at preventing doctor shopping, the fewer powerful painkillers will be diverted for illegal sale.

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