A state Senate panel recently took the unusual step of debating a proposal and approving it during the same hearing.

The measure would dismiss Missouri from carrying the distinction of being the only state in the country without a prescription drug monitoring program.

All 49 other states already have such systems in place for reducing prescription drug abuse and illegal distribution.

Senate Democrat Jill Schupp of Creve Coeur says the absence of a monitoring program has led to Missouri being used as a playground by people across the country.

“If you plan to work outside the law by either doctor shopping or pharmacy shopping, getting additional drugs, narcotics, opioids for yourself or to sell on the black market, you’re able to come to Missouri and do that with more freedom than any other place in the nation.”

With a prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP, doctors and pharmacies enter prescriptions into a statewide database where they are cross referenced before being dispensed again.

The programs collect, monitor, and analyze electronically transmitted prescribing and dispensing data submitted by pharmacies.  The state Department of Health and Human Services would enact and oversee a PDMP in Missouri.

Schupp sponsored a proposal which was rolled into two measures during the committee hearing.  GOP Senator Dave Schatz of Sullivan will carry the measure to the chamber’s floor.  Schupp says such a system is needed to help physicians guard against doctor shopping or inter-mixing the wrong drugs for patients.

“It helps them see what’s going on with drug interactions or over-medicating.   So you can’t get a 30 day supply of this opioid here, and come back 10 days later and get another 30 day supply of this opioid just because you went to a different doctor and said ‘Well now I have a back pain’”.

Legislation to put a PDMP in place in Missouri has been blocked by Senate Republican Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, who thinks it would infringe on peoples’ privacy.  Schupp says she understands those concerns, but thinks a monitoring program is necessary to save lives.

“It’s one thing if somebody gets my information” said Schupp.  “It’s another thing if somebody has access to drugs becomes addicted and dies because we didn’t put a stop on this.  (It’s) to make sure that they know they’re being over-prescribed, or that the doctor knows that they’re being over prescribed, and that we can maybe save some lives.”

In previous years, the chamber has dropped PDMP legislation because of Schaff’s threats to filibuster the bills.