Missouri no longer stands out as the only state in the country without a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Greitens speaks at St. Louis event where he signed an executive order for a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

During his visit to Express Scripts in North St. Louis County on Monday, Governor Eric Greitens signed an executive order to establish a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

“We have to look this problem square in the eye and the fact is opioids are a modern plague.” Greitens said before Express Scripts staff and families impacted by the opioid crisis.

“This program will not  fix the program, but without this program, the problem can not be fixed.” Greitens added.

Under the plan, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will enter into contracts with Express Scripts and other pharmacy benefits companies to create and monitor the database. The state is also in talks with United Healthcare and CVS to partner with this program.

The estimated start up cost for the program is $250,000 and is being funded by the state.

The Governor’s action comes after the Missouri Legislature failed to pass a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program this past session.

The Governor will hold events throughout the state this week as part of an effort to address the opioid problem in Missouri.

Last week, Greitens signed Senate Bill 501, which is aimed at fighting opioid addition. Part of the legislation allows anyone who seeks emergency assistance in the case of a drug overdose to do so without the threat of prosecution.

A number of elected officials have spoken out since Greitens the executive order Monday morning.

Ballwin GOP State Representative Shamed Dogan tweeted: “Governing by executive order because you couldn’t get a bill passed was wrong under Obama and it’s wrong today.”  House Democrat Lauren Arthur of Kansas City tweeted:”I support PDMP. Governor Greitens version doesn’t allow prescribers to see database — totally useless in trying to prevent “dr shopping”

Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, applauded Greitens’ executive order. In a statement, he said “Today’s first step toward a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri is long overdue,” Hawley said. “I brought suit against major opioid manufacturers last month to start the fight to end the opioid epidemic in our state. A prescription drug monitoring database is critical to that effort.”

Republican state Senator Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit, a sometimes critic of prescription drug monitoring legislation that lawmakers considered, issued a statement praising Greitens.  “As a Republican, I support smaller government. I do not believe the government should be in the business of creating databases to track law-abiding citizens.  The executive order signed by Gov. Greitens today does not create such a database on Missouri’s citizens, but will help combat the opioid epidemic the state and nation are facing. This executive order focuses on the prescribers and distributors of medications, such as doctors and pharmacists, who are already regulated by the state.  I appreciate the governor’s efforts to find a solution to the drug monitoring issue within our state without violating the rights of everyday citizens.”

Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill released a statement questioning the effectiveness of Greiten move. “While I certainly welcome the Governor’s attention to this crisis, I have serious questions about how meaningful this action will be if doctors writing prescriptions—and pharmacists filling those prescriptions—don’t have access to this database” said McCaskill. “The welcome mat is still out for drug dealers to shop for prescriptions in our state. The real solution here is for our elected officials in Jefferson City to get off the sidelines, and pass a robust statewide program into law that gives law enforcement, pharmacies, and doctors the tools they need.”

Missourinet St. Louis correspondent Jill Enders wrote this story.  Jason Taylor contributed to it.