Two bills that would create a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri received a hearing Thursday before a State Senate committee.
One of the bills, though, is structured in a way that’s designed to block the proposal from ever becoming reality. Physician and State Senator Rob Schaaf (R, St. Joseph) is an outspoken critic of prescription drug monitoring. He says it would violate citizens’ privacy rights.
“But I have agreed to carry (Senate Bill 146), given that it goes to a vote of the people, and that nothing will be construed to require a pharmacist or prescriber to obtain information about a patient from the database,” Schaaf told the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Health.
Schaaf admitted that his strategy is to pass a version of the bill that voters will likely defeat at the polls. He also conducted a filibuster against a similar bill last year and succeeded in getting voter approval added to it. Republican leaders then tabled it and allowed it to die when last year's regular session ended.
Sandra Davidson of Sullivan traveled to the State Capitol to testify against creating a drug monitoring program.
“Any information that’s being released to law enforcement, it’s available to them to also tap into that," Davidson said. "It’s available to prosecutors, it’s available to Family Support Division Services, it’s available to judges and judicial authorities who have subpoenas...it’s also available to in-state and out-of-state entities – it has no bounds.”
The other version, Senate Bill 233, would not require voter approval -- it's sponsored by State Senator David Sater (R, Cassville), who's also a retired pharmacist. Doctor Joseph Forand of St. Louis testified in favor of Sater's bill, on behalf of the Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists. He says a drug monitoring program will help combat doctor shopping in Missouri.
“One family practitioner told me he was hiring a new partner," Forand told the committee. "He said he told her to expect that one in two of the new patients would be drug seekers, doctor shoppers in other words...I also have a neurosurgeon friend...he says 50 percent of his new patients are drug seekers.”
No action was taken on either bill today. Missouri is the only state in the country without a prescription drug monitoring program.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport