Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis County Releases First Prescription Drug Monitoring Report

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis County Releases First Prescription Drug Monitoring Report

Article excerpt

EARLY DATA SHOW:

* Women older than 65 are prescribed more controlled substances than any other population group.

* Lincoln County residents have the highest rates of controlled substance use.

* St. Louis is on the lower end of controlled substance use.

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Doctors write the equivalent of more than 1.5 prescriptions for controlled substances for every person in St. Louis County, according to the first report from the county's new prescription drug monitoring program.

The report reflects data from the first three months of the program, which tracks prescriptions of opioid painkillers, muscle relaxants, stimulants and other legal drugs with a potential for abuse. There are 14 geographic areas from across Missouri in the report, which also includes St. Louis, St. Charles County, Lincoln County, Cole County and Kansas City.

Of the areas included, Lincoln County residents have the highest rates of controlled substance use, with a ratio of more than two prescriptions for every resident. St. Louis is on the lower end, with 1.2 prescriptions per resident. The report covers controlled substance prescriptions and refills that were filled from April through June 2017 at about 90 percent of pharmacies in the participating areas.

There isn't enough data yet to make conclusions about Missourians' use of controlled substances, but the program is working as intended to identify people who are at risk of prescription drug overdose, said Faisal Khan, director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.

"We want to continue to empower as many doctors and pharmacists as possible to use the system," Khan said. "It's time that Missouri caught up."

Missouri was the last state to start a prescription drug monitoring program to target the national epidemic of painkiller abuse and overdoses. After the Legislature failed for years to pass bills that would create such a program, two separate drug monitoring efforts were announced this year.

The county health department established its program in April and invited other jurisdictions to participate. Doctors and pharmacists can access the database to check a patient's prescribing history and watch for potential abuses. Now about 76 percent of the state's population is covered by the 54 participating cities and counties, Khan said.

Meanwhile Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive action in July to create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. Unlike the typical format that tracks patient behaviors, the governor's system would be primarily used by law enforcement and professional boards to identify doctors and clinics that overprescribe painkillers. …

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