By Stephanie J. Patterson
Let's face it—every single one of us knows someone who has died of a drug overdose. I have too many friends who have suffered this very avoidable loss of a loved one.
Overdose deaths have become the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Trends are worsening, with studies showing that over 500,000 adolescents are abusing prescription pain medications and over 2.5 million people are already addicted. Scary, isn't it? As I have blogged for a few years now, sadly, the number of people I know that have lost their loved one has at least tripled. The amount of people I know that suffer from addiction has more than tripled. We are in a crisis.
In 2012, 259 million opiate prescriptions were written. This is enough for every person in the United States to have their own bottle of pills. Frightening.
49 of the United States of America have responded to this epidemic by passing legislation that creates prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). PDMPs allow doctors to know the history of a patient's prescriptions filled, even if he or she was not the prescribing physician. This is important information for a physician and allows doctors to be better physicians. Unfortunately, they cannot rely on patients to always tell the truth, especially if there is a prescription drug problem with the patient. This is often referred to as "doctor shopping."
For example, Sally goes to family Doctor Y. He treats her for her heartburn, sleep issues and anxiety. He has no idea that she is leaving his office and heading to the mall to another doctor, who will give her anxiety medications and pain pills as well. In Missouri, this is a problem, because we have no PDMP to check such things. Not only that, but we have surrounding states that do have a PDMP—and their residents who are seeking pain pills have learned to use Missouri's lacking system to their advantage. Therefore, Missouri's lack of PDMP is not only seriously hurting our own families—we are hurting our bordering states, who are trying to stop this problem. A PDMP will mitigate "drug seekers": those who are attempting to obtain opiates, such as OxyContin, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, to abuse or to even sell.
Missouri has attempted to fix their problem, with PMDP legislation passing in our House of Representatives. But this legislation has continued to stall in the Senate. A big part of the reason for that is a small group of Senators, led by Robert Schaaf of St. Joseph, filibuster this bill each year. Missouri has the necessary votes in both the House and the Senate for the bill to pass.
Isn't it amazing that a small group of obstructionists can hold up a bill, year after year? Isn't even more amazing that the leader of said filibuster cares so little about Missouri families?
During one argument regarding PDMP, Senator Schaaf stated, "if they overdose and kill themselves, it just removes them from the gene pool." Wow. That infuriates me to this day. My gene pool is priceless to me, as is the thousands of Missourians who have buried their loved ones due to an addition to prescription drugs.
Federal legislation was recently passed to support state efforts in mitigating the opioid crisis. If Missouri does not pass PDMP legislation in this session, it is possible that Missouri will miss out on needed federal funds to fight the opioid crisis.
Shatterproof, a national non-profit, is focused on ending the opioid epidemic and is advocating for PDMP legislation in Missouri.
Will you please join me in signing up to support their advocacy efforts? Click here to get started.
We have lost too many people in Missouri. We are losing more daily to this epidemic. I am working to get this legislation passed because of people like my daughter, whose addiction began with prescription pain pills. I'm standing up for this legislation because of my friend who lost her brother, who had multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors and died from a lethal concoction. I'm standing up for this legislation for my physicians who are already burdened with paperwork and insurance hoops, and cannot babysit every patient that they have. They need more information. Physicians can provide better care for their patients if they have full information—and the accountability of the patient will be more apparent. The doctor shopping will be curtailed. The information is priceless. This legislation will save lives.
For those who claim this is about privacy, let's face it—there is no privacy anymore. Hospitals already have this data within their system. Insurance companies have the data of narcotics and what they will pay for and how often. Medicaid and Medicare have that ability as well. Why would we not share that information with those who are prescribing and filling our prescription drugs?
Contact your Missouri Representatives and Senator's and tell then to STAND UP FOR MISSOURI FAMILIES AND PASS PDMP LEGISLATION.
Send a clear message that Senator Schaaf's agenda is over.
Barton County, in particular: tell Ed Emery that we want him to stand up for Missouri.
MISSOURI, IT IS TIME.
This post originally appeared on My Addiction to Addiction. Republished with permission.