Prescription Drug Abuse | St. Louis Public Radio

Prescription Drug Abuse

A radiologic technologist clears a trauma bay at St. Louis University Hospital's emergency room.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A coalition of six medical organizations has recommended that hospital doctors take more caution when prescribing opioids for patients with pain.

To cut down on unnecessary prescriptions of addictive painkillers, the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians, the Missouri Hospital Association and other groups want hospital doctors to limit prescriptions, in some cases to a week's supply.

The guidelines, which update a 2015 list that applied only to emergency departments, now include all hospital personnel who prescribe medicine.

Stephen Cummings | Flickr

Updated at 11:27 p.m. April 24 with the council's decisions — Two bills that would have established a drug monitoring database in Jefferson County failed during a Monday night meeting of the County Council.

The council heard two competing bills that would have allowed the county to join the local prescription tracking system set up by St. Louis County. But a disagreement over how long a database could keep Jefferson County data, however, likely derailed the whole process, even though council members appear to agree that the rising rate of opioid-related deaths is unacceptable and a prescription drug monitoring database could help prevent overdoses.

A capsule of pills.
FDA | file photo

After years of opposition in the Missouri legislature to a statewide program to monitor prescription drugs, St. Louis County is preparing to test its own.

By using a new database, pharmacists in the county will help flag consumers who may be “doctor shopping” for highly addictive opioid-based painkillers. Missouri is the only state in the country without such a system.

Its goal is to take away one of the easiest pathways to opioid addiction, while giving doctors and pharmacists a way to be more vigilant, said Dr. Faisal Khan, St. Louis County's health director.

St. Louis College of Pharmacy professor Amy Tiemeier demonstrates how to use a medication disposal pouch to promote National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. (Oct. 20, 2016)
Durrie Bouscaren| St. Louis Public Radio

Police departments, recreation centers and a handful of grocery stores will accept and dispose of unused medications in the St. Louis region as part of a semi-annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday.

Public health officials recommend that people dispose of unused medications to prevent accidental poisoning or addiction. While flushing pills down the toilet may be effective, it can contaminate the water system. With that in mind, a growing fixture at the take-back days are plastic disposal pouches, filled with a carbon compound. They can hold up to 45 pills, and a once cup of water is added, the mixture breaks down into a substance that is safe for a landfill.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 3, 2013 - President Bill Clinton is no stranger to Washington University. The private university was home to the first presidential debate in 1992, when the then-Arkansas governor squared off in a rhetorical showdown with incumbent President George H.W. Bush and Texas businessman Ross Perot. Less than a month later, Clinton would defeat both men to become the nation’s 42nd president.

Flash forward nearly 20 years later and Clinton is coming back to Washington University -- but this time for a decidedly different reason.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 15, 2012 - To some politicians, the debate over whether Missouri should be the only state in the nation without a prescription drug monitoring system is bound up in issues such as the right to privacy and limits on governmental power.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 25, 2008 - As the “The Dark Knight”  broke box office records, Heath Ledger, who played the Joker, is in the spotlight. We are once again reminded of the circumstances of his untimely death.