One state’s political fringe becomes the rest of our problem

Flag_of_Missouri-cropSo it turns out that a recklessly irresponsible fringe in Missouri politics is determined to help the rest of the country die of prescription drug abuse as fast as is logistically possible, even as pretty much every other state is losing its mind trying to figure out how to stop the prescription drug abuse and opiate/heroin abuse problem from spiraling even further out of control. You think I’m being hyperbolic? Buckle up.

The New York Times reports on the story in an article headlined “Missouri Alone in Resisting Prescription Drug Database” :

Drug monitoring programs, whose procedures and powers can vary significantly from state to state, all share a similar strategy: to require doctors, pharmacists or both to enter all prescriptions into a database that can — or, in some states, must — be consulted later to make sure patients do not get excess medication.

Because many states’ programs appear effective, Missouri has been urged to put one into effect. Among those calling for a change are Missouri medical associations, members of Congress from neighboring states, the White House and even Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, the St. Louis-based manufacturer of oxycodone, the highly abused prescription painkiller.

Seems reasonable so far. Every other state has got a database (with great results in many cases), the key players (including a major local drug maker) are on board, and it seems like common sense. So why hasn’t it happened yet? Let’s read on together…

But while proponents say the vast majority of the Legislature supports the measure, it has been blocked by a small group of lawmakers led by State Senator Rob Schaaf, a family physician who argues that allowing the government to keep prescription records violates personal privacy.

And then one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever read in a New York Times article came right after that (emphasis added):

After successfully sinking a 2012 version of the bill, Mr. Schaaf said of drug abusers, “If they overdose and kill themselves, it just removes them from the gene pool.”

“There’s some people who say you are causing people to die — but I’m not causing people to die. I’m protecting other people’s liberty,” Mr. Schaaf said in a recent interview in his Senate office. “Missouri needs to be the first state to resist, and the other states need to follow suit and protect the liberty of their own citizens.”


And to think that just last week I was opening my New England Yankee mind to the idea that maybe we shouldn’t try to impose national agendas for everything and should consider letting state governments work out more things among themselves.

This is the kind of thing that makes Massachusetts natives like me say “No, I think it’s best if you let us drive for a while. You’re in no condition to govern like that.”

Or in the far less Yankee more charitable words of Kentucky Republican U.S. Representative Harold Rogers, on this issue, “It’s very selfish on Missouri’s part to hang their hat on this privacy matter. The rest of us suffer.”

Anyway, the rest of the article is mostly about a Missouri pharmacist who is also a prescription-hunting sheriff’s deputy with a gun — because America.

If a customer tries to fill a clearly illicit prescription in Mr. Logan’s own pharmacy, he has been known to jump from behind the counter and arrest that person on the spot.

So go check that out, I guess.


Bill Humphrey

About Bill Humphrey

Bill Humphrey is the primary host of WVUD's Arsenal For Democracy talk radio show and a local elected official.
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