(WABE)

WASHINGTON (Press Release) – As the Missouri State Legislature continues to debate a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill released the following statement on drug monitoring legislation from Representative Holly Rehder of Sikeston:

“Representative Rehder’s plan will make a real difference in saving Missouri lives, and I urge state leaders to follow her leadership and do the right thing. We’re finally seeing movement in Jefferson City to crack down on prescription drug shoppers who are fueling the heroin epidemic—and I hope the Legislature will act on it, rather than the half-measure designed to allow folks to say they did something while really allowing this cancer to continue festering in our communities.”

While the Missouri House appears focused on a plan proposed by Rehder, the Senate passed a plan Thursday that the Missouri Medical Association called “bad for Missouri patients.”

Missouri is currently the only state in the country without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, and legislation to create one has been repeatedly blocked in the state legislature. Despite the lack of statewide action, cities and counties across the state are working in a coordinated manner to implement programs. Lincoln County recently announced an agreement to join the St. Louis County monitoring program, which also includes Cole County, Jackson County, St. Charles County, and Ste. Genevieve County. St. Louis City, Kansas City and Independence also joined these efforts and the city of Columbia recently announced that it is working to establish a prescription drug monitoring program.

The motion shaped by McCaskill that was successfully included in last year’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act—federal legislation that provides resources to states to combat the number of prescription drug and heroin deaths across the country—enables Missouri’s network of county-level monitoring programs to be eligible to apply for federal resources. Without this provision, eligibility for this federal grant funding would have been limited to states.

On her tour last year of Missouri with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, McCaskill highlighted the need for change in Missouri law to create a prescription drug monitoring program. Among Midwestern states, Missouri ranks number one in the rate of prescription opioids sold in the region. McCaskill also traveled to Jefferson City, Mo. to hold a field hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging with Rehder to highlight the national epidemic of increased opioid addiction, abuse, and overdose deaths.