UPDATE 12/1: Council members voted unanimously to approve the prescription drug monitoring program for the city of Kansas City. It will go into effect in the Kansas City portions of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte Counties some time in early 2017.
By the time Gary Henson learned about opiates and addiction, it was too late.
"I didn't know what an opioid was," Henson explained. "I didn't know that was Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin. I didn't know that it was really legalized heroin on your shelf. The other thing I didn't realize was how difficult it is to come off of it."
His son Garrett spent nine months at a rehab facility for prescription opiate abuse. A week after he was discharged, Garrett died from an overdose. He was just 20-years-old.
That's why Henson and more than a dozen advocates spoke to Kansas City's Public Safety Committee to urge members to implement the prescription drug monitoring program.
"You have two choices when you have a tragedy in your life," he said. "You can either be mired in the muck or you can try to do something positive."
Missouri is the only state that hasn't implemented the program, so now cities and counties are stepping up. Jackson County already passed the prescription drug monitoring program. Also cities within Jackson County, with the exception of Kansas City are already participating. In order for KC to participate, the city council must approve the measure.
"Right now in the state of Missouri your physician cannot see the prescription that you've been given by other physicians," said Sarah Martin-Anderson with the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department. "That obviously presents a problem when it comes to substance use disorder, but it also presents a problem for people who don't have a substance use disorder, people who might potentially have a very dangerous drug interaction."
On Wednesday, the public safety committee voted to move the measure forward. Now the decision rests with Kansas City City Council. Members will vote to approve or deny the prescription drug monitoring program in Thursday's City Council meeting.
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