Senator Claire McCaskill in Springfield to Discuss Opioid Abuse

Jul 22, 2016

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson
Credit Michele Skalicky / KSMU

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill said it has been “a source of extreme frustration” that, as the U.S. has dealt with an epidemic of opioid abuse, Missouri is the only state that has refused to set up a prescription drug monitoring program.

According to McCaskill, the states that have set up prescription drug monitoring programs, designed to catch those who are “prescription shopping,” have seen success.

"Tennessee, for example, the opioid abuse has dropped by a third since they adopted their monitor--New York 75 percent," she said.

She said she's frustrated because, while Missouri has a Republican-dominated legislature, other states with a majority of Republicans in their legislatures have set up monitoring programs to prevent trafficking of prescription drugs.  According to McCaskill, people are coming from other states to purchase prescription drugs since they know they won't be watched.

During a stop in Springfield, McCaskill met with representatives of various organizations that deal with opioid addiction, including, doctors, pharmacists, a recovery counselor and law enforcement.  She wanted to know how the federal government is getting in the way of what they’re trying to do.

David Stoecker (Stoker), a recovery counselor and director of the Better Life in Recovery program was part of the panel. 

He said a prescription drug monitoring program would be a good first step in addressing the problem of opioid addiction.

"We need to treat it, and this is a prime way to begin treating it.  You know, if Walmart can track my cold medicine, you know, why can't the state of Missouri track the prescriptions," he said.

According to Stoecker, addiction needs to be treated as a disease just like cancer. And he believes there needs to be more non-religion based transitional housing programs for recovering addicts as well as more access to treatment programs.

McCaskill said an amendment in the recently-passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act is aimed at Missouri, and, if funded, will allow government entities to establish their own prescription drug monitoring programs.

While she criticized the Missouri legislature for failing to establish a statewide program, she praised Missouri lawmakers for passing legislation that allows doctors to prescribe to families Naloxone, a drug that can save those who have overdosed on heroin.