St. Louis County prescription monitoring program continues to fi - KMOV.com

St. Louis County prescription monitoring program continues to fight heroin epidemic

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(Credit: KMOV) (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

After a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) was created to battle the rising heroin epidemic in St. Louis County last year, many are wondering if the plan is working.

Talking to those who are fighting the heroin epidemic, they’ll tell you the numbers are not going down overall. However, city officials believe the program is a success but still has a long way to go.

“It's in your backyard, it truly is. It's everywhere,” said anti-heroin activist Kathi Arbini said.

Arbini took to Facebook to wish her late son Kevin a happy birthday— he would have turned 30 but died from an overdose in 2009.

Arbini said her son would ‘doctor shop’ by seeing several physicians for medications.

“When he passed away and we looked in his truck, we found nine prescriptions from nine doctors, all pain meds,” she said.

The mother said she believes the PDMP would have saved his life.

Governor Eric Greitens sign an executive order to create a PDMP that tracks the people who prescribe or distribute addictive drugs last year. The plan is to target ‘pill mills’.

For years, state lawmakers debated the issue but never passed a statewide program. Critics claimed there was an issued with privacy.

Greitens' plan differs from many state programs significantly – majority of the states track patients who are abusing the system.

Since St. Louis County began its program, dozens of cities and counties have joined in.

Dr. Faisal Khan of the St. Louis County Department of Health said 58 counties are currently enrolled in the program. He said the program covers 92% of state providers and 80% of the state’s population.

Vast stretches of the state where counties do not participate leave those areas open to potential doctor shopping.

“The people who are dying are people that we love.” St. Louis County County Executive Steve Stenger said. “ It’s our family, it’s our friends.”

This is a tragedy that Stenger knows too well. His nephew died from an overdose in 2014

“ Over about the last seven years in our region it's been about 2700 of our citizens so this has reached epidemic proportions,” said Stenger.

Stenger hopes other counties continue to join St. Louis County PDMP program to help combat the epidemic.

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