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An ordinance to implement a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program will go forward to the full City Council in an effort to combat the growing opioid epidemic in our community and country.
Today the Community Involvement Committee heard the recommendation of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, as well as Springfield’s Healthy Living Alliance, to implement a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in our community. This recommendation was followed by a panel discussion featuring organizations impacted by opioid abuse.
Missouri is the only state in the country that does not currently have a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). A PDMP is a secure electronic database that tracks the filling and dispensing of prescription drugs to better inform prescribers and pharmacists of potential abuse. The most common tactic pointing to opioid abuse is so-called “doctor shopping,” going from doctor to doctor to receive opioid medications. Prescription medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone are considered opioids, as is heroin.
Springfield is currently positioned to join a largely state-wide effort to receive a federal grant to implement a PDMP. The grant covers the cost of such a program for the first two years. City Council has already approved applying for the grant alongside other state-wide partners. To implement a PDMP, an ordinance has to be passed by the full council. After a unanimous vote from the Community Involvement Committee today, this now goes to City Council for a vote.
The Springfield-Greene County Health Department and the Healthy Living Alliance strongly recommend the implementation of a community PDMP as the first step in combating the growing opioid epidemic. Since 1999, overdose deaths in the U.S. have quadrupled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Locally, Greene County opioid overdoses have similarly grown, from a rate of 8.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2000 to 31.6 deaths per 100,000 for the latest data available, in 2015.
“There aren’t too many things that council can do to save a life, but this is one of them,” said Dr. Tom Prater, city councilman.
Many organizations in the Springfield area have noticed the growing opioid abuse epidemic. The panel included representatives from CoxHealth, Mercy, Springfield Public Schools, Springfield Police Department, Springfield Fire Department and Community Partnership of the Ozarks. All had stories of the impact their organizations have seen from a growing problem of opioid addiction.
“It’s just really completely changed the practice of medicine, particularly in the Emergency Department,” Dr. Howard Jarvis of CoxHealth shared.
He said patients across the board have suffered, both drug seekers who are put through unnecessary tests in their efforts to get pain medication, as well as patients who do in fact have health issues, but can be viewed with skepticism because of this epidemic.
Dr. Jarvis said between the first quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2017, the use of overdose-reversing drugs for opioid abuse has increased by 120 percent within CoxHealth systems.
Chief David Pennington from the Springfield Fire Department said his department’s first responders have seen growing number of patients with opioid abuse issues.
“There’s no one demographic and no one district, we see this across the city,” Pennington said.
Moving forward, the Health Department will convene a meeting with pharmacists in Greene County to outline the process for them and address any concerns. The proposed ordinance will then go to the full City Council for first reading.
The Healthy Living Alliance, an organization aimed to make healthier living a priority in Springfield by bringing together representatives from local business, government, nonprofit and health care industries, is focused on improving community health through systems and policy change.
For more information, contact Springfield-Greene County Health Department Public Information Administrator Kathryn Wall at 417-874-1205 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement Cora Scott at 417-380-3352 or email@example.com.