House backer of prescription drug monitoring wants a special session to get program passed

The legislative session has ended without passage of a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), but the top advocate for that issue hopes the legislature will be called back early to try again.

Representative Holly Rehder (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Holly Rehder (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston) has been pushing for a statewide PDMP for several years.   Missouri is the only state that does not have one, though several of its counties are participating in a program based in St. Louis County.

She kept fighting until the final hours of the session on Friday for passage of a bill to create a program.  Now she hopes Governor Eric Greitens (R) will call a special session of the legislature to focus on the issue.

“I think if there’s any hope of us getting a statewide [PDMP] passed it’s going to have to be a special [session] sooner than later, and I’m going to have to have help from [legislative] leadership,” said Rehder.

Backers of PDMPs say they help fight prescription drug abuse, particularly opioids.  PDMPs collect and monitor drug prescription and dispensing data to look for, among other things,

“doctor shopping;” the visiting of multiple doctors in an attempt to get as much as possible of drugs that are commonly abused.

Rehder came away from a conference between selected House and Senate members with a version of the program that would purge patient data after two years; would include reporting on all schedules II through IV drugs; and a mandate that all physicians would have to report to the system.  She said she simply ran out of time Friday to educate fellow lawmakers on the measure to get it passed.

She said in order to get a statewide PDMP passed time is now of the essence, because with no program having been approved by the legislature, more counties will be looking to join St. Louis County’s system.

“We’ve kind of reached a tipping point with these counties,” said Rehder.  “We can never get that type of a robust program out of both [chambers of the legislature], yet I need counties’ representatives’ votes to get it out of the House, and so … if we don’t get this out in something like a special session right away, the more counties that get added, just the more reps that are going to have to be against it.”

Rehder believes if the legislature is called back for a special session it will be able to come to agreement on a monitoring program, and she thinks it will look much like the bill that came out of the conference committee in the final days of the session.

Rehder said if a county-by-county PDMP is the only option, she’ll support that, but she still thinks it is important that a state-run PDMP be created.

“We shouldn’t be penalizing people’s safety because of their zip code,” said Rehder, saying anyone could drive until they are in a county that isn’t participating in a program.

She noted proposals for a state program would also prohibit authorities from using prescription data to prevent individuals from owning guns – a provision the St. Louis County program doesn’t have.

In order for a bill to pass the House, Rehder would likely need to regain the support of urban Democrats whose districts are covered by the St. Louis County program.  Many voted against the final proposal to come before the House, viewing the program it would create as less robust than the county’s.