We passed a measure that would ensure welfare recipients are properly verified. The bill would allow the state to more efficiently and proficiently verify applicants and recipients of welfare services. The Department of Social Services would hire an outside vendor to conduct the verification process for applicants for the various programs to ensure that the help is going to people who deserve it. Our current system is riddled with fraud and abuse and we are spending more every year on programs that we have little control over.
By a large bi-partisan margin, we passed a bill that will allow licensed pharmacists to provide a product called Naloxone to people who are displaying symptoms of opioid related overdoses. By administering this drug, death or lasting injury due to heroin and other opioids can be averted. With these types of overdoses, time is critical and this measure is truly life saving.
There is currently a bill proposal moving through the system that addresses the problem that we are experiencing with prescription drug abuse. Missouri is the only state that doesn’t track prescription drugs. The purpose of the tracking isn’t to limit our right to privacy; it’s designed to keep people from ”doctor shopping” for prescription painkillers. The bill creates a database that would inform doctors and pharmacists when similar prescriptions are recently written or filled, a sign of potential abuse. Last year there were 82 prescriptions written per 100 people in Missouri! The popular painkilling drugs Oxicontin, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Oxymorphone, Methadone, Opana, and others, are opioids or narcotics like heroin and are prescribed for post-operative pain. The way they work is by blocking the nerves. They come with strict instructions for use and many precautions about their misuse. They are extremely addictive and cause life-threatening withdrawal in newborns. Withdrawal for adults has reportedly the worst symptoms of any drug and is extremely painful. Because of this, attempts by addicts to quit are highly unsuccessful without professional help such as clinics. One 40mg Oxicontin pill has the same amount of oxycodone as sixteen Percocet pills! It is the most expensive drug available with costs ranging from $20 to $50 dollars for a 40mg. pill and $35 to $100 dollars for an 80mg. dose. An average addict consumes 320mg. per day at a cost of up to $300 dollars. Addicts try to enhance the high by crushing, breaking, or grinding the tablet to inhale it or by mixing the powder with water to inject the solution. Because of it’s extremely high cost, many addicts switch to Heroin, which has similar results. Deaths due to Heroin overdoses are alarmingly high and getting worse every month. This bill has little chance for success due to the perception that is allows too much intrusion into our personal medical records. I think that it's significant that 49 other states plus Washington D.C. and Guam have adopted the measure and that the nearly 1500 Pharmacists and over 40 Sheriffs Associations in Missouri have come out in favor of passage. Missouri has to find a way to protect our information and pass this bill. Maybe next year.
It looks like next week could get really interesting; I'll keep you posted. Don't forget Lincoln Days at River Ranch on Saturday at noon. Ron Richard, the Speaker Pro Tem of the Senate will give the keynote speech.