Livingston County Commissioners on Tuesday passed an ordinance adopting a prescription drug monitoring program in an effort to crack down on drug abuse, and local officials are encouraging other counties to take similar action.
Livingston County Commissioners on Tuesday passed an ordinance adopting a prescription drug monitoring program in an effort to crack down on drug abuse, and local officials are encouraging other counties to take similar action. The county is participating in a program developed by the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, which provides a database that tracks the prescribing and dispensing of controlled prescription drugs, including opioid pain relievers to patients. Opioids are a class of drugs that includes heroin but also prescription pain relievers such as morphine, oxycodone (oxycontin), hydrocodone (vicodin) and fentanyl, among others. The database collects information from dispensers, ordinarily pharmacies, and makes it available to prescribers. The program has been adopted by counties in the St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia areas. Livingston County began studying the program earlier this year. Before adopting the program, Livingston County commissioners contacted the local pharmacies, and representatives from those pharmacies participated in a teleconference with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health. “This gave all a chance to hear the plan and to ask questions as to the specifics of the program and how it would work,” said Presiding Commissioner Ed Douglas. “The consensus from the pharmacists was that this was a needed program that is long overdue, and that we should adopt it.” The county’s adoption of an ordinance approving the agreement became effective immediately. The ordinance requires local pharmacies to enter information regarding level II-IV substances in a database. This data is then available to both doctors and pharmacies to help prevent abuse of opioid use. Douglas explained how abuse happens. “An example would be a patient going to several different doctors and then several different pharmacies to fill the same painkilling prescription,” Douglas said. “This system we are adopting allows both physicians and pharmacies to see what prescriptions have been filled by a patient, and when, thereby allowing doctors and pharmacies to potentially catch and prevent abuse and misuse before it happens.” The county’s cost to participate in the program is $240 per year. If Missouri adopts a statewide program in the future, the county can transition into it at that time. “Missouri currently is the only state in the country that does not have a comprehensive program like this statewide,” Douglas said. “Gov. Greitens has recently authorized a program that helps to address the opioid issue from a slightly different direction than this PDMP.” Douglas said he and associate commissioners Dave Mapel and Alvin Thompson are encouraging surrounding counties to adopt this program. “Having other counties involved helps prevent a potential opioid abuser from going to another doctor or pharmacy in a neighboring county.” “The drug epidemic in our county is very serious, and we hope that our ordinance requiring pharmacies to enter this information into the monitoring system’s database will provide a needed tool to help fight the problem,” Douglas said.