Springfield City Council Hears Public's Views on Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

Jul 11, 2017

Prescription Drugs
Credit frankieleon / Flickr

Springfield City Council could vote in just under two weeks on a prescription drug monitoring program for the city.  A public hearing last night brought those for and against a PDMP before council.

Katie Towns, assistant director of health for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, said implementing a program locally would help in the fight against opioid addiction.

"There's evidence that has shown that there's decline in opioid-related deaths, reduced drug and medical costs related to inappropriate prescribing, drug abuse prevention and also physician support," she said.

Springfield City Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky, expressed concern about patient privacy if a PDMP were implemented.

Physician John Lilly says a 2015 study by the Department of Health and Human Services showed that only 2.3 percent of opioid abusers use so-called doctor shopping to get their drugs, so a PDMP would not be effective.  And he said elected officials need to work to uphold the constitution.

"Article 1, Section 2 of the Missouri Constitution defines your role as a legislator.  It says your role is to protect the liberty of the citizens of Springfield.  If the government does not do that it fails in its chief design.  Your role is not to make physicians' jobs easier," he told council members.

But physician, David Tonkin, said having a prescription drug monitoring program would allow doctors to check if someone has gotten opioids elsewhere before writing a prescription for more.  According to Tonkin, 80 percent of the responsibility of an opioid addiction is the physician.  And he told council a PDMP can help reduce the opioid abuse problem in Greene County, which he said is significant.

"Every third patient that walks through my clinic is trying to pull one over on me and either abuse them or divert them...those prescriptions every month are worth thousands of dollars on the street, so we have to do something, at least start somewhere, but we basically have to have about a four-pronged approach to treating this epidemic," Tonkin said.

Missouri is the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program.