Jackson County will now be able to apply for federal funds in order to support its new efforts towards a prescription drug monitoring program.
The federal money would come from the Department of Health and Human Services. Originally, those funds were only eligible for applying states. However, given that Missouri is the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program and Jackson County has decided to take matters into its own hands, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) led the charge in making the funding change.
"I'm hoping it will allow us to circumvent the stubborn voices in Jefferson City that are refusing to acknowledge the severity of this problem,” said McCaskill during a phone interview Friday with 41 Action News. "The more counties we can get to participate, the more lives we're going to save. This is a deadly epidemic."
Jackson County approved to start its own prescription drug monitoring program back in October.
"The Kansas City Health Department estimates that we have 26,000 people in Jackson County who potentially have a prescription drug problem, like opioids,” said Brenda Hill, Jackson County spokesperson. "The funds are really going to help us make this prescription drug monitoring program more robust and also inner-operable so we can network with other parts of the state."
Jackson County said its new PDMP will be up and running “very soon,” hoping to give doctors and pharmacists access early this year. They plan to be on the same network as St. Louis County, which also started its own PDMP, so they can share and store the same information.
McCaskill believes it’s only a matter of time until other counties in Missouri follow suit.
"We need to get out, remove ourselves from the distinction we're the only place in the country where you can prescription shop and not get caught,” she said. "I wanted to make sure the counties who've stepped up had an opportunity to participate in this funding and that's what we were able to get across the finish line."
Josh Helmuth can be reached at email@example.com