I am writing in response to the editorial encouraging Hannibal and other NEMO counties to join in St Louis County’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. I am a newly elected Commissioner in Monroe County and I have been fighting against the PDMP for 4 years. The St. Louis County ordinance is a spitting image of Rep. Rehder”s PDMP bill, neither will do what it claims to do.

*Editor’s Note: This opinion is in response to a Courier-Post Editorial titled “Following state PDMP failure, counties should forge ahead anyway” published in the May 19 Courier-Post and May 24 Salt River Journal.

I am writing in response to the editorial encouraging Hannibal and other NEMO counties to join in St Louis County’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. I am a newly elected Commissioner in Monroe County and I have been fighting against the PDMP for 4 years. The St. Louis County ordinance is a spitting image of Rep. Rehder”s PDMP bill, neither will do what it claims to do.

I ask you to use a little deductive reasoning about the statement you made. It takes about 30 seconds on the Internet to find that abuse of prescription drugs and the use of heroin is on the rise — as is the overdose rates connected to such drug abuse.

Think about it, 49 states have a PDMP and it’s still climbing wouldn’t that suggest that PDMP’s aren’t working. Let me give you a couple of quick facts, Kentucky implemented a PDMP in 1999 and is now considered the Gold standard for PDMP implementation ranks 4th worst in the country for drug overdose deaths but they were 3rd worst until New Hampshire implemented their PDMP in 2013.

By 2014 the New Hampshire death rate jumped 73% and that is what accounted for Kentucky’s improvement. By the way, where do you think Missouri ranks without a PDMP as of 2015? Surely, we must be the worst in the country. Sorry to burst the bubble, but 21 states are worse than good old MO. As a matter of fact they are slightly better than the national average of the drug overdose death rate/100,000 people.

Missouri, has quietly been using our Narcotics and Dangerous drug investigators to hold the line along with other common sense legislation like making Naloxone available for first responders and making doctor shopping illegal. Other good common sense legislation has failed to gain traction because of this push to pass Rep Rehder’s PDMP. Ultimately, the opioid crisis, starts with Doctors and in order to be successful must end with the Doctors.

If the medical lobby had agreed to making the use of the database mandatory, we would have a PDMP today.

It should be noted , all the National organizations supporting PDMP, say that without mandatory use PDMP legislation is ineffective. In reality it’s our medical lobby that is the hold up in Missouri not Senator Schaaf. Now why pray tell would the doctors not want to be made to use the database prior to prescribing such dangerously addictive drugs for their patients?

In state after state, participation rate is woefully low. For instance , after 5 full years of implementation, Florida has only 23.9% of it’s health care professionals registered to use the database. Do you think Missouri doctors will be significantly better? I could go on and on with research and studies that have been done concluding PDMP’s, like St Louis County’s are ineffective.

Unfortunately, the database is the priority not the proper care of chronic pain patients and certainly not the emotional pain that drives abusers to escape reality by using these dangerously addictive drugs.

Remember, the crisis is opioids so why track every drug in Schedule II thru IV, It makes sense to track only those drugs that account for the majority of deaths as the statistics dictate. But again, the House refused to accept a compromise .

A 2012 government study found that 1.8% of approximately 23 million current users received their pain killers from more than one doctor.

The rest got their drugs primarily from friends or relatives for free , by theft, or purchase. So you tell me how a database will identify or prevent that source of diversion, because those drugs were prescribed by Doctors legitimately.

There are solutions available that don’t require the private medical prescription history of hundreds of thousands of Missouri citizens be collected and stored in a government database that as current history shows us is vulnerable to hacking. It’s time to tell the politician to protect us, not the lobbyist interests and clearly, these PDMP’s protect the interests of Hospitals, Doctors, Nurses and insurers , but nothing for the citizen.

Under PDMP prescribers and dispensers have no liability for either using or not using the database.

What this means is when you lose a love one because a doctor or pharmacist failed to check the database which would have prevented these drugs from ultimately reaching your love one, you have no legal recourse.

Now, you tell me, how fair is that?

What you haven’t been told is there is a real crisis that is estimated by the CDC to cause nearly 10 times the deaths as the opioid crisis. It’s death caused by medical professional error, shouldn’t we have a database to track those individuals.

— Ron Staggs, Monroe County Commissioner