ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. (KMOX) – Government leaders in St. Charles County say they’re tired of waiting around for the state of Missouri to do something substantial about the heroin and opioid abuse problem.
Monday night they took the first steps toward establishing a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).
“We’re the only state in the United States that doesn’t have this,” said St. Charles County Council member Joe Brazil – who represents District 2. “It’s absolutely ridiculous. Every other state is doing this because of the opioid and heroin epidemic that we’re having, and it’s killing hundreds and hundreds of people a year.”
Brazil is the sponsor of Bill No. 4381, which was up for a first reading at Monday night’s County Council meeting.
The St. Charles County Department of Public Heallth is working with St. Louis County Department of Public Health to implement an application service provider for a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).
It would monitor the prescribing and dispensing of all Schedule II, III, & IV controlled substances by licensed professionals.
St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann said keeping track of prescriptions in St. Charles, St. Louis, and surrounding counties would be a big step toward eliminating the practice of “doctor shopping.”
“That’s where people will go to several doctors and get several different prescriptions for the same medication,” according to Ehlmann. “We have a situation where doctors don’t know who’s been where or how many other doctors are prescribing the same thing.”
And that, he says, opens the door for opioid abuse, which often acts as a gateway for heroin addiction.
Currently there are 707 potential registered users: physicians, physician assistants, dentists — practicing in St. Charles County and those are the targeted registered users.
The annual cost of the link for dispensers and prescribers to report their data is estimated to be about $7,955, which is based on a fixed price of $7.00 per registered user.
The remaining costs would be covered by a proposed implementation fee percentage to reimburse St. Louis County.
Final negotiations with the vendor have been completed by the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.
“We have people who are taking opioids and becoming addicted,” said Ehlmann. “Once they become addicted, then it’s a short step from the opioid pain killers to heroin, and I don’t need to explain what a big problem heroin has become.”
The proposed ordinance would allow St. Charles County officials to sign an intergovernmental agreement with St. Louis County. This would order for their prescribers and dispensing entities to report the data, and for St. Charles County health official and their vendor to receive direct county data for analysis.
Supporters say the purpose of the ordinance is “not to interfere with the legitimate medical use of controlled substances.”
However, they say residents, patients and providers will benefit from a privacy-protected PDMP.
Brazil said the ultimate goal would be to get Franklin, Jefferson, and Lincoln Counties on board with the program, which could then spread even further.
“We did the same thing with pseudoephedrine and that pretty much stopped meth, but they would just go over to St. Louis County and get it,” he explained.
He said that loophole was soon fixed, leaving those looking for meth ingredients nowhere locally to turn.
“We had a huge meth problem,” he pointed out. “And that’s pretty much almost gone away, I won’t say it’s totally gone away. But it’s not nearly as significant as it used to be.”
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