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Another prescription drug monitoring bill passes Missouri house

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A bill is making its way through the Missouri capitol tonigh aimed at creating a prescription drug monitoring program once again.

Missouri is the only state which doesn't have such a program.

Pharmacists at Grand Pharmacy in Hannibal said it's a lot of work to figure out if someone is shopping around to get opioids.

They said they hope a statewide tracking system could make it easier, but, for others, privacy is a concern.

"We've been talking about it for several years, getting a statewide monitoring program, and I just think it would help pharmacists and healthcare providers to know if a patient is doctor shopping, pharmacy shopping to try and get more medication than is clinically necessary," said Greg Gilmore, pharmacist and owner at Grand Pharmacy.

He said when they think someone is doing that, they have to call around to area doctors and pharmacies.

"When we try to determine if they've gotten other prescriptions, it's time consuming," said Gilmore.

Law enforcement officials said what starts at these pharmacies could have larger implications in their efforts to combat prescription drug abuse

"We want to identify the individuals that have problems as far as addiction goes with these prescription pills and assist these individuals," said Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn.

Sheriff Shinn said it's something the state needs.

Opponents of the bill have privacy concerns.

Shinn said police and pharmacists aren't who the public should be worried about.

"We're all in this for the betterment of our communities and the last thing we want to do is leak out private information from individuals," said Shinn.

Back at the pharmacy, that's in line with what Gilmore said as well.

"Patients come in and we're trying to keep their information as private as possible, and every healthcare provider in the state is already doing that," said Gilmore.

State Senator Cindy O’Laughlin said she's working with a group of senators on a solution that will give doctors information on a patient's drug use, while keeping government out of the middle of it.

She said her goal is to protect doctor-patient privacy.

House bill 1693 passed the house Monday, with local 5th District Representative Louis Riggs and 4th District Representative Greg Sharpe voting yes.

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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