Opioid Abuse

Jennifer Moore / KSMU

In the Missouri capitol building in Jefferson City, Representative Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, has been trying for half a decade to get Missouri to establish a PDMP, or Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

That’s an electronic records database that would allow prescribers—doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, and anyone who can prescribe narcotics—to pull up on a screen in the exam room that shows what medicines that patient has been prescribed, and when.

Missouri is the only state where medical professionals don’t have the option of using such a database.

Federal Drug Administration

A community meeting tonight in Springfield will focus on the opioid epidemic in the Ozarks.  Pain Pills to Heroin:  A Problem Within Reach will be held from 6 to 8 at the Greene County Archives Building, 1126 N. Boonville.

The event, hosted by Community Partnership, will feature presentations by four panelists:  Missouri State Representative Holly Rehder, Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson, Jim Farrell, director of the Springfield School Police Department and Dr. Kurt Bravata who specializes in addiction treatment.

Michele Skalicky

Opioids, both prescription and illicit, are the main driver of drug overdose deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   More than 33,000 people died in the United States in 2015 from opioid overdoses, the latest year for which numbers are available. 

Greene County had 97 overdose deaths in 2015, and, of those, 61 were opioid-related.

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.