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Clay County receives grant for prescription drug monitoring program

Posted at 10:18 PM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-10 06:36:39-04

LIBERTY, Mo. — The Clay County, Missouri, Public Health Department is using a $75,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address the ongoing opioid crisis.

The county is is considered a high-intensity area for drug trafficking.

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, there were 879 emergency visits due to opioid misuse made by county residents from 2012 to 2016. That includes 98 known deaths from opioid overdoses from 2013 to 2017.

There have been at least 129 opioid-related emergency room visits each year from 2013-17, including a record 219 such visits in 2016.

"The goal and the hope it is that we are catching people before they move into a full opiod use disorder or addiction and overdose," said Danielle Roethler, a community development specialist for the Health Department.

The one-time grant will be used to strengthen local data collection and analysis of opioid use as well as to provide education to community members on opioid use and overdoes prevention.

The Health Department's goal is to reach 100 percent enrollment in its Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which tracks prescriptions from doctors and distribution from pharmacies to prevent curb over-prescribing by physicians or doctor shopping by patients.

Currently, pharmacies are required to report the drugs it distributes. Medical providers can opt into the system, though it costs about $2,200. The Health Department plans to use the grant money to waive this cost.

"It's a tool doctors and providers can use to start a conversation if they fear that maybe misuse is happening," Roethler said. "The goal is not to cut off all medication but to start a conversation, getting people into treatment before it becomes too big of an issue."

Missouri is the only state without a state-wide prescription drug monitoring program. Debate over public health and privacy has stalled state legislators from enacting a program in recent years.

Clay County and 73 other jurisdictions subscribe to a prescription drug monitoring program that was started by St. Louis County, which covers 84 percent of the state.