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A tool to fight drug abuse
CONGRESSWOMAN HOLLY REHDER LEGISLATIVE COLUMN

A tool to fight drug abuse

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Holly Rehder

Holly Rehder

For eight years as a member of the House of Representatives, I fought to enact a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri.

Every year, I introduced legislation to create a statewide PDMP program, only to see my proposals fall short in the Senate. I’m thrilled to report this potentially life-saving initiative will soon go to the House for its consideration. This week, after more than seven hours of debate, the Senate approved my Senate Bill 63.

As someone who has witnessed substance abuse and addiction my entire life, I am determined to see Missouri join 49 other states in creating a statewide program that allows physicians and pharmacists to spot troubling patterns in their patients’ medical histories, recommend alternative treatments or help the patient begin to address substance abuse issues. On a more basic level, PDMPs are proven tools to increase patient safety and help providers recognize dangerous and potentially lethal combinations of medications.

Senate Bill 63 is narrowly drafted to ensure that prescription histories can only be accessed by physicians, pharmacists and other medical professionals directly involved in the care of their patients. Law enforcement agencies will not have access to the information, and probable cause applications for arrests or warrants cannot be based on PDMP data. Furthermore, the bill specifically forbids using the PDMP to deny anyone the right to own a firearm. These are important protections I’m proud to be fighting for.

My legislation requires a rolling purge of medical data. No information older than three years will be retained. The bill also includes strict felony penalties for disclosure of private prescription information. The new PDMP will be administered by a task force with representatives from the boards of healing arts, pharmacists, nursing and dentists. It will not be a government-run program.

A PDMP alone will not solve the opioid epidemic or make addiction disappear. But it is an important tool that allows health care professionals to provide greater patient safety and identify concerning trends in a patient’s prescription history. I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for advancing this critical legislation and I look forward to the House sending the bill onto the governor’s desk.

In other legislative activity this week, I presented Senate Bill 415 to the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. This legislation would allow orders of protection to remain in effect for any length of time determined by a judge, based on the evidence presented. Under current law, orders of protection are in effect for just one year. Typically, victims of domestic violence must reappear in court – and face their abuser again – in order to request a renewal. My legislation will end the trauma of continually having to revisit an abusive relationship.

It’s important to understand that unlike ex parte orders, which are temporary and issued prior to a court hearing, orders of protection are only issued following a hearing where findings of fact are presented. This legislation gives the judge the option of extending orders of protection in cases involving obsessive abusers who cannot, or will not, stop tormenting their victims. Allowing extended orders of protections will provide peace of mind to victims and ensure greater personal safety to survivors of domestic violence.

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