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Drug Epidemic

To say we are in the middle of a prescription drug epidemic is an understatement. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service, 1,132 Missourians lost their lives to an opioid overdose in 2018, accounting for 1 of every 56 deaths in the state. My family knows all too well that these are not just numbers but real lives being taken from us far too soon. In 2017 one of these lives taken was our daughter who became addicted to opioids after a car accident. Forty-nine states have implemented a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to help combat this crisis. While not a silver bullet, PDMPs allow medical providers to see concerning trends in their patient’s narcotics history. Spotting these trends can open a window of intervention for the patient before they go too far down the road of addiction and allow a provider to intervene with options for alternative care or treatment. Medical providers have many options producing excellent outcomes, but if concerning trends of abuse are not spotted early the chances of success are much lower.

Implementing a PDMP can not only decrease opioid overdoses, it can also help protect patients from unsafe prescription combinations. This is especially true among our elderly population who often see multiple specialists for a variety of issues. If a patient forgets to tell these different doctors about all medications they are taking it could lead to doubling a prescription on a medication or prescribing a medication that counter acts a current medication. This could have a fatal outcome. I understand the concerns some people have regarding PDMPs and patient privacy. A PDMP would be protected by federal HIPAA laws the same as all other medical records. The information is double encrypted making it much more secure than the typical breaches you see with credit cards, banking, and other financial products. The program being proposed in Missouri would not allow anyone to see your medical data who is not already authorized to do so. President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis recommended enhancing current PDMPs via grants, for data review across state lines and, integration into electronic medical records.

It is time Missouri join the other 49 states and implementing this program to help protect our citizens against this epidemic. As this legislation is being debated in Jefferson City let’s remember that real lives are at stake. The Missouri State Legislature should pass a PDMP bill this session to help battle this deadly epidemic.

Kent Scism

Candidate, Missouri State Senate 3rd District

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