Missouri will receive $10 million in federal grant money to help combat a growing opioid painkiller crisis, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt announced Wednesday.
It comes as the Missouri General Assembly is attempting to set up the nation's last prescription drug monitoring program, though the measures have hit several roadblocks.
Blunt's statement cites a study from the Missouri Hospital Association, which said the state saw 12,585 overdoses between 1999 to 2015. But the number of overdoses in 2015 along was 1,098, the study said. A separate MHA study said there was a 538 percent increase in the number of babies born addicted to opioids in the last 10 years, according to the statement.
"The opioid epidemic is destroying families and communities across the country, and Missouri is no exception," the Republican said, adding, "This grant will expand access to treatment, recovery and prevention programs, and strengthen our state's ability to combat this growing epidemic."
The federal money comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, also has talked about the need for stemming the opioid crisis.
Several Missouri cities and counties have established their own prescription drug monitoring program while waiting for a statewide one to be instituted. Republican Rep. Holly Rehder of Sikeston is sponsoring the House proposal, which would allow doctors to view patients' prescription records in an online database. She hopes the federal grant will bolster the argument for creating a drug monitoring program.
"Every ounce of discussion that we have about this (opioid) epidemic is helpful," she said. "It shows the urgency of the day and the need to be all hands on deck addressing this issue."
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