Bill aims to stop doctor shopping

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

By Lindsay Reed

In an attempt to stop some instances of "doctor shopping," Sen. David Sater is sponsoring a bill that would establish a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.

According to Sater, Missouri is the only state that has not yet passed legislation setting up a prescription monitoring database.

"We have a serious problem with prescription drug abuse in southwest Missouri, and one of the primary targets are our children and grandchildren," said Sater. "More that 11.1 percent of Missouri teens reported using prescription drugs for recreational use, compared to an average of 3.1 percent nationally."

Emergency rooms are also treating more drug overdoses, said Sater. Drug related emergency rooms are estimated to cost Missouri around $77.2 million annually.

"The number of overdose deaths in the United States as a result of prescription drug use and abuse is now greater than those of deaths from heroin and cocaine combined," said Sater. "Since non-profit hospitals, such as Mercy and Cox, have to see these patients by law it is costing the taxpayers of Missouri and Barry County.

"Overall, the state spends an estimated $1.3 billion resulting from substance abuse," continued Sater. "This equals out to $245 per Missourian. This program will give Missouri a tool to fight this very serious problem and will save the taxpayers of Missouri from footing the bill for prescription drug abuse."

Some legislators, including Sen. Rob Schaaf, a physician from St. Joseph, are opposing the bill because they feel the database would be an invasion of privacy. Schaaf would like to see the issue decided by Missouri voters.

Sater's response is that 80 percent of all prescriptions are adjudicated to either Medicaid or an insurance carrier.

"This Rx information is already available to physicians, pharmacies, government and insurance companies," said Sater. "This database only red flags people who doctor shop and pay cash for narcotic prescriptions at multiple pharmacies.

"This would allow a physician to inquire for a new patient that is asking for pain medication, a method of seeing if this patient has seen multiple physicians and pharmacies for similar medications," continued Sater. "The database would be secure and would not be available to the public. It would be available to only the Bureau of Narcotics and physicians."

The bill Sater sponsored has been heard in the Senate Health Committee and will likely be voted out of the committee in the next two weeks.

"The chairman of the committee, Sen. Dan Brown, supports the bill and wants to move it to the floor for consideration of the full Senate," said Sater.

The bill is also drawing support from other state senators, leading Sater to believe it will be approved by the Senate later this year.

"As a pharmacist, I have witnessed people with insurance and Medicaid obtain prescriptions and pay cash instead of running them through their carrier and pay a co-pay," said Sater. "Under current law, we are limited in our ability to stop this and it is just one example of how the current method of dealing with the problem falls short.

"Missouri needs an effective tool to deal with this problem, but one that protects patient privacy while working to keep prescription drug trafficking out of our communities," added Sater.

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