Eric Greitens

Eric Greitens
Charlotte Hatch / KSMU

Calling the opioid epidemic a “modern plague,” Governor Eric Greitens asked Missourians Thursday to join the fight against the issue. Thursday’s comments at an opioid summit in Springfield came just days after he signed an executive order establishing a prescription drug monitoring program.

Greitens, who lost a cousin last year to a heroin overdose, implored community members and advocacy organizations to step up their efforts.

Missouri’s statewide prescription drug monitoring database will come online next month. There’s a key difference between it and databases throughout the U.S. and even in St. Louis County, which actually covers nearly 60 percent of the state.

The program, created by Gov. Eric Greitens by an executive order, will collect who is writing opioid prescriptions and dispensing the drugs, but only the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services can access the data. In every other state, pharmacists and doctors can see that type of data — which is the most successful way to stem opioid abuse, according to Sherry Green of the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.

Painkiller
Casey Fleser / Flickr

Springfield is the first of nine Missouri cities to hold events aimed at raising awareness for the opioid epidemic.

Thursday’s “Missouri Opioid Crisis Summit: Springfield Kickoff” will bring together community and state leaders to discuss the drug crisis and best interventions moving forward.

Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order Monday to set up a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, ending Missouri's status as the final state in the nation without such a database. 

The order also bypasses another round of debates in the Missouri legislature, which came close to establishing a broad program during the regular session, but failed. Several cities and counties in the state already have set up their own monitoring program. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended Missouri’s time to comply with the federal Real ID law, which means Missouri residents can use a current driver’s license to get into federal facilities, military bases and nuclear power plants.

Nationwide, Real ID-compliant identification has been required to get into such facilities since October 2015. Missouri’s extension goes through Oct. 10, Homeland Security spokeswoman Justine Whelan said. The extension was granted Monday. 

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