The state House has given initial approval to a program to track prescription drugs, but the Republican majority is split on the issue.

Representative Holly Rehder (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Holly Rehder (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The bill is aimed at fighting prescription drug abuse by tracking the filling of prescriptions to catch people getting more of a drug than they need to sell it or feed an addiction.

House debate on the bill was delayed for weeks because of opposition in the Republican party, including from Representative Keith Frederick (R-Rolla), who says it doesn’t matter that Missouri is the only state without such a program.

“It’s still a rampant problem in all the other states that have it. It’s not like we’re saying Missouri is standing out as the major leader,” said Frederick. “If you look at the stats we’re in the middle of the pack. We should be number one in drug abuse because we don’t have a [prescription drug monitoring program] if the PDMP was really going to do any good, which it doesn’t.”

Bill sponsor, Representative Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston) said some states don’t rank higher because their programs are still ramping up. She suggested Frederick’s argument would be to say the legislature doesn’t care about its constituents because Missouri doesn’t rank worst in prescription drug abuse.

“So we don’t care. We’re not going to have the 41-percent decreases in overdose because we’re not the worst, so we’re not going to do anything about it right now,” said Rehder. “It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) said the program would violate Missourians’ rights, and not just because of concern the program could be hacked into and medical records could be accessed.

“The offensiveness in the bill is not that the information might get out from the PDMP list,” said Barnes. “It is that it has been disclosed to a third-party without the consent of an innocent Missourian.”

Representative Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis) said legislators shouldn’t be afraid of the bill creating a new database.

“Our biggest fear should be the amount of people that we’re losing and the amount of suffering that citizens across our state are suffering because we don’t do this,” said Montecillo.

The House gave initial approval to the bill 91-68, with 62 of those no votes coming from Rehder’s fellow Republicans.
Another favorable vote would send the bill to the Senate where it has faced opposition in the past.