(The Center Square) – The Missouri Senate approved a bill that would establish the state’s first prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) designed to compile information about prescriptions for controlled substances in a centralized database accessible to medical professionals.
The Senate on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 63, sponsored by Sen. Holly Rehder, R-Scott City, which would collect data beginning in 2023 from pharmacies on substances and prescription drugs dispensed to patients, in a 20-12 vote.
While 11 Republicans joined nine Democrats in sending SB 63 to an uncertain fate in the House, the dozen “no” votes were registered by members of the chamber’s conservative caucus led by Reps. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, and Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville.
“We have 49 other states that are test cases for whether or not this sort of system works, and 49 have failed,” Brattin said. “This is an absolute infringement on our people’s rights. Regardless, like I’ve said, how you feel about this issue, we realize what it is we’re dealing with. But this is not the way to go about it.”
Rehder said SB 63 ensures patients’ privacy and that the database cannot be used during any criminal investigations or to prohibit Missourians from owning firearms.
“This is the exact same thing as an electronic medical record,” Rehder said. “This is just the prescription information.”
A PDMP is an electronic database that collects data on controlled substance prescriptions. Missouri is the only state in the nation that has not created a statewide PDMP.
A 2020 compromise bill to establish a state-run electronic database to track pharmaceuticals, also filed by Rehder, was adopted in the Senate but failed in the House over concerns about potential data breaches.
Rehder has filed bills seeking to establish a statewide PDMP in Missouri for the last eight years as a member of the House. Elected to the Senate in November, SB 63 is her first attempt to pass the measure from the senior chamber.
SB 63 advanced through committee hearings and a six-hour March 29 “perfecting” debate on the Senate floor that featured a series of failed amendments proponents claimed would have imposed needless, costly restrictions on vendors and diluted needed support from doctors.
SB 63 establishes the Joint Oversight Task Force of Prescription Drug Monitoring within the state’s Office of Administration. Members will be selected from the Board of Registration for the Healing Arts, Board of Pharmacy, Board of Nursing and Missouri Dental Board.
Under SB 63, the task force would contract with a vendor to maintain “patient-controlled substance prescription dispensation information” beginning Aug. 28, 2023, submitted by pharmacies and doctors and retained for no more than three years.
SB 63’s PDMP would be a statewide replacement for a St. Louis-based PDMP that covers more than 80 percent of the state, Rehder said, and impose stricter restrictions on data-sharing.
Under the bill, the PDMP would only collect data on medications considered controlled substances, such as opioid painkillers and some anti-anxiety drugs. The data could not be provided to law enforcement and only could be used for medical treatment.
Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, who voted for SB 63, said installing a statewide PDMP is “long overdue. Even for folks who don’t like the idea, I think it’s in the best interest for the state.”
Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, who also voted for SB 63, told Missourinet Radio that every other state recognizes “informed doctors make better decisions” so it’s time Missouri does so also.
“Forty-nine states currently have a PDMP, and actually it just provides a layer of protection against drug and dependency and dangerous drug interactions,” Schatz said.