St. Louis Record

Monday, October 14, 2019

Attorney: Politicians' 'lack of leadership' on opioid crisis 'leaves Missourians addicted and dying'

Lawsuits

By Gabriel Neves | Apr 22, 2019


JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is attempting to fight the pharmaceutical companies through showing people the horrors of opioid addiction.

As stated in a report by St. Louis Riverfront Times, "Schmitt announced the launch of a website, realopioidpain.com, to connect with Missouri residents who might testify in an ongoing lawsuit against drugmakers Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson," allowing "anyone affected by the opioid epidemic to share their stories."

At the same time, Missouri has the highest rate of deaths related to opioid overdose, the report claims.

Quoting data from the Centers for Disease Control, per the Riverfront Times report, "in 2017, 952 state residents died of opioid overdoses — about one of every 65 deaths in Missouri," leading to a bill introduced by Rep. Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston) that would implement a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), which is currently unavailable in the state.

Attorney Gary Burger told the St. Louis Record that "Missouri has been slow to react and treat this epidemic," and, given the absence of a PDMP in Missouri, "doctors are permitted to widely prescribe opioids without consequences, and there seems little coordination or leadership in the issue."

The attorney also points out the lack of leadership in fighting opioid addiction.

"Politicians in Jeff City have not made it a priority or been leaders on the issue. In 2017, the House and Senate versions were different and the medical lobby did not like some of the tracking law. Last year seemed embroiled in the Greitens drama. Hopefully this year it will pass. The sad thing is that the lack of leadership leaves Missourians addicted and dying. Have you seen how many pain management doctors have billboards in rural Missouri? It’s crazy that we are the only state without it (PDMP)," Burger said.

Regarding the bill, Burger said that he hopes "lobbyists don’t prevent its passage," which passed in the House "over two months ago."

He also has some advice for legislators.

"Pass the PDMP; act as leaders on the issue and confront addiction and drug abuse; prevent and treat, not just criminalize," Burger said.

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