Gov. Greitens signs order establishing statewide prescription drug monitoring system

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. --  Missouri is the last state to implement a prescription drug monitoring program. The Show-Me-State is making a move to curb the opioid epidemic. Missouri Governor Eric Greitens' executive order tells state leaders to build a database of people filling prescriptions. The idea is to limit pill shopping, and install something lawmakers have been unwilling to install.

It's called "Doctor Shopping." Pharmacists at one metro store say they often catch customers who abuse the system -- filling prescriptions from multiple doctors for pain medication. Gov. Greitens is joined by at least one treatment professional -- who wants to see that stopped.

Susan Whitmore understands addiction firsthand. She's been hopeful for Missouri to enact a prescription drug monitoring program -- as used in 49 other states -- for years.

"We see a prescription drug monitoring program as an intervention that can save somebody's life," she said.

Whitmore says she battles her own dependency. She's been in recovery for addiction to alcohol for 10 years. That's why her work as CEO at First Call is so personal to her.

"PDMP gives these individuals an opportunity to be told by their physician that they're aware they have an addiction, and if people are given the resources for treatment, they have a better chance of getting better," she explained.

Whitmore says drug addicts were aware of Missouri's relaxed laws -- and she watched as many abusers filled their "doctor shopped" prescriptions in the Kansas city metro.

When Missouri's hopes of establishing a statewide program failed -- Jackson County legislators started their own -- in effort to pressure state leaders to do the same.

"We have so many people who are dying on a daily basis," said Dan Tarwater.

The Fourth District at-large legislator leads the county's anti-drug task force. His own brother -- Brian -- died earlier this year -- a victim of an opioid overdose.

"The doctors even want this. They don't want to be the ones getting shopped. They want to know that when someone comes in their office, they're actually in pain and they need it, and they haven't gotten another prescription that morning," he said.

However, some are opposed to the executive order.

"There are privacy concerns, obviously. I don't think government officials should have my Jackson County constituents personal medical information," Jackson County Second District legislator Crystal Williams said.

"I don't think law enforcement should have people's personal medical information unless it has something to do medically with their situation, and then, they should give them permission for it to happen."

Gov. Greitens said the program should be up and running sometime in August.

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