Ste. Genevieve Co. joins prescription drug monitoring program

Published: Jan. 31, 2017 at 8:44 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2017 at 5:43 PM CST
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(Source; Sherae Honeycutt/KFVS)
(Source; Sherae Honeycutt/KFVS)

STE. GENEVIEVE COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Federal funding is now available for more Missouri communities that do not have a prescription drug monitoring database.

Millions of dollars in federal money is available to track prescription drugs and prevent doctor shopping.

Because Missouri is the only state in America without one, cities and counties have been implementing their own.

Now Ste. Genevieve County is one of the newest counties to join the effort.

Sandra Bell with the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department said she saw what was going on in other counties and wanted to take a preemptive measure.

"Hopefully physicians and pharmacists will be able to identify people who need help and we can get them help," Bell said.

Bell got the county involved back in November of 2016.

"My concern was: if other counties are joining into this – the problem of prescription drug abuse is just going to keep coming further and further and we need to get that started in Ste. Gen County," Bell said.

The State of Missouri is the last in the nation not to have a state-wide monitoring system.

That's something the President of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy said is vital.

"Missouri has become a magnet for those kind of individuals and some practitioners who come here just to write prescriptions for opioids," Dr. John Pieper, President, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, said. "It's about two people every day in Missouri die from an overdose of heroin or opioid prescription drugs."

Ste. Genevieve's overdose numbers are relatively low, with only about 10 deaths since 2014.

But city officials believe one death is too many.

"An autopsy costs about $1,700 dollars in this county," County Commissioner Gary Nelson said. "This drug program costs $320 dollars. So for a county that thinks the cost is too much – you've got to look at the big picture. You save one life, you're saving money."

Bell said the program doesn't report information to police, but simply informs doctors and pharmacists about previous prescriptions.

"This program is going to help identify individuals who may be having a problem with pain management to get help," she said. "It's going to identify individuals who may be seeking drugs for an addiction issue."

The program is currently set to roll out in April.

St. Louis County will be installing software and training both doctors and pharmacists on the program.

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