Physicians in Missouri may soon join providers throughout the rest of the country and be able to track opioid prescriptions after the state Senate passed a bill to develop a drug-monitoring program.
The Missouri Senate last week passed a measure that would create a prescription drug-monitoring program by a 20-13 vote.
Missouri is the only state in the country without a prescription drug-monitoring program. The databases collect, monitor and analyze information on prescriptions, allowing prescribers to identify cases of overprescribing or if a patient has engaged in "doctor shopping" by visiting numerous providers for opioid prescriptions.
Several attempts to create such a system in Missouri have failed as some lawmakers said the database could infringe on patient privacy. But this latest bill was supported by a former opponent of such programs.
Republican Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf, a family physician, introduced the current bill despite strongly opposing a state prescription drug-monitoring program for years. His proposed legislation would allow a physician to view a patient's medical data only if an algorithm identified cases of doctor shopping. Drug-monitoring program supporters have criticized Schaaf's bill for limiting physicians' abilities to take patient records into account when making prescribing decisions.
The Missouri House of Representatives is considering a rival bill that would allow doctors to view a patient's information before prescribing, similar to prescription drug-monitoring systems in other states.
Several counties have created their own drug-monitoring systems in the absence of a statewide program. Studies have found when prescribers use prescription drug-monitoring programs they tend to prescribe opioids less often. A study published in last June in Health Affairs found the rate of Schedule II opioid prescribing declined by 30% from 2001 to 2010 in states immediately after they launched a drug-monitoring program.