In 2009 prescription drugs caused 21,000 deaths by overdose, and the drug czar for the USA is calling prescription drug abuse an epidemic that is not slowing. Out of the 50 states in America 49 have programs in place for monitoring prescription drug abuse, and Missouri is the only state that does not have this type of program in place. Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske stated “The number of deaths as a result of prescription drug use and abuse are greater than heroin and cocaine overdose deaths combined.” Missouri is still holding out against a database for prescription drugs due to concerns about privacy. Last year the state legislature attempted to pass a law allowing prescription drugs to be monitored but the attempt was filibustered, in part because of privacy concerns expressed by the public and even physicians in the state.
Director Gil Kerlikowske will be meeting with Republican Senator Kevin Engler, who has pushed for a monitoring program for prescription drugs. The last push that ended in a filibuster was thwarted by Republican Senator Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph. Senator Schaff says “All they have to do is punch in your name and address and they can find out every controlled substance you’ve been prescribed.” Many advocates in Missouri argue that medications are protected as medical information and a database that contains this information could not be completely secured from hackers and others will malicious intent. Senator Schaaf has threatened to filibuster any new legislation that allows monitoring just like he has in the past.