Prescription Drugs

Missouri Is the Only State Not Tracking People's Prescriptions


12th St David/Flickr

Missouri is the only state in America without a prescription drug database, which The New York Times describes as "the primary tool the other 49 states use to identify people who acquire excess prescriptions for addictive painkillers and tranquilizers," as well as the doctors who overpresribe them. In 49 states, the government is keeping track of what prescription medications you take. 

That's a little disconcerting, no? While these databases are touted as ways to combat prescription painkiller abuse and trafficking, most states require doctors and/or pharmacists to report prescriptions for any number of medications, including AHDH and anti-anxiety drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Xanax. This database then can, and sometimes must, be consulted by future physicians prescribing drugs. 

Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-District 34) and a small group of other legislators have been fighting against pressure—from medical groups, "members of Congress from neighboring states," the White House, and drugmakers—to institute such a database. Schaaf, a family physician, says allowing a government database of prescription drug records is a privacy violation.

"There's some people who say you are causing (painkiller addicts) to die—but I'm not causing people to die. I'm protecting other people's liberty," Mr. Schaaf said in a recent interview in his Senate office. "Missouri needs to be the first state to resist, and the other states need to follow suit and protect the liberty of their own citizens."

Mr. Schaaf's steadfast opposition has come under sharp criticism from fellow Republicans, including a United States representative, Harold Rogers, Republican of Kentucky, one of eight states on Missouri's 1400-mile perimeter. "It's very selfish on Missouri's part to hang their hat on this privacy matter," Mr. Rogers said. "The rest of us suffer."

That is some pretty warped logic: We're all supposed to happily give the government access to our private health records in order to help them "save" prescription painkiller addicts (which, for all the talk of a painkiller epidemic, are likely not as prevalent as drug warriors and public health officials would have you believe). But what do government officials do when they find out someone has multiple painkiller prescriptions? They arrest, fine, and often inprison them. We're supposed to give up privacy to help further enable to the police state and prison industrial complex in this country? (No thanks!)

In the absense of a database, Missouri is deputizing pharmacists to directly go after those "acquiring fraudulent drug prescriptions." The New York Times piece seems largely supportive of this, along with drug database and monitoring efforts in general. The article ends with Casie Hammon, a Missouri woman who was arrested by a pharmacist/sherifff after filling prescriptions for 171 days' worth of hydrocodone and 140 days' worth of other painkillers in a 70 day period.

Hammon has been charged with a Class D felony for fraudulently trying to obtain a controlled subtance and is to be obtained in August. 

In an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs, Ms. Hammon sobbed as she spoke with a detective inside the Scott County sheriff's office interview room.

She explained that scoliosis kept her in pain and that surgery a few months before made her need more and more relief. She described how she visited several doctors for extra painkiller prescriptions, but said that she did not know that was illegal.

While Detective Caid sorted through more empty bottles and pharmacy receipts, Sheriff Rick Walter watched Ms. Hammon on two monitors and became convinced that she was not selling her pills, but taking them herself.

Sheriff Walter said that his small force, even with an armed pharmacist like Mr. Logan, was simply outmanned to deter the drug abuse already occurring in Scott County, and that cases like Ms. Hammon's would increase if Missouri did not get a database.

"I understand what they're saying about privacy, I really do," Sheriff Walter said. "But look at this—this is just one woman, one family. Those kids, they're wondering where Mama is tonight. She's hooked on painkillers, because the system allowed her to be."

No, Sheriff Walter, clearly you do not understand people's privacy concerns, any more than you somehow don't understand that it is you keeping "those kids…wondering where Mama is tonight." She's "hooked on painkillers" in the face of genuine medical problems and the system wants to take her from her children and keep her in prison because of it. 

I fail to see how any of this is helping people, but it's pretty clear how these databases could be abused.

As Christopher Moraff wrote at Pennsylvania's The Patriot News earlier this year, "if registries are an invasion of privacy for citizens who voluntarily choose to buy a gun, surely they are for those who have no choice but to be sick." And: 

If the potential of having the federal government nose around in your private medical data isn't worrisome enough, consider that in 2009, hackers stole the records of more than 8 million patients from Virginia's prescription database and threatened to sell them on the black market if a $10 million ransom wasn't paid.

There's also little evidence that strict monitoring systems are effective in stemming prescription drug addiction and abuse—even data from the pro-monitoring Trust for America's Health calls the benefits of such initiatives into question. But such initiatives can have a "chilling effect" on how doctors treat patients. Physicians who fear being investigated for overprescribing may unnecessarily withold medication from those who could use it. 

"Viewed through this lens," writes Moraff, "legislation that trades off patient privacy as an alternative to tried-and-true remedies to drug addiction and abuse is a political red herring that places far too much power in the hands of investigatory agencies at a cost to consumers." Just to sum things up here: in the lesser-talked-about war on prescription drugs, we seem to be jailing and ruining the lives of people in physical pain instead of helping them, and using this as justification to give guns to pharmacists, interfere with doctor-patient privilege, and intrude on everyone's medical privacy. Am I leaving anything out?

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  1. “There’s some people who say you are causing (painkiller addicts) to die?but I’m not causing people to die. I’m protecting other people’s liberty,” Mr. Schaaf said in a recent interview in his Senate office. “Missouri needs to be the first state to resist, and the other states need to follow suit and protect the liberty of their own citizens.”

    Ratbagging teafucker!

    “Freedom” is a dogwhistle for racists and babyrapers.

  2. “I understand what they’re saying about privacy, I really do,” Sheriff Walter said.

    Which is why Sheriff Walter is about to ignore everything “they” are saying about privacy.

    “But look at this?this is just one woman, one family. Those kids, they’re wondering where Mama is tonight. She’s hooked on painkillers, because the system allowed her to be.”

    This simple, childlike creature, known as Woman, cannot possibly control her hysterical reactions to pain or adversity, without the firm but fair hand of our manly perscription database to guide her.

    1. Now if they only take cars away from women, we’ll all be safe.

      /why there are no…

      1. And the vote, don’t forget to take away the vote…

        After all, BO is their fault.

    2. The system allowed her.

      Ponder that mentality a moment.

      1. Yeah, this 100%.

        Fuck you, Sheriff Big Brother. It takes a village to fuck up an individual.

        1. Some village idiots go missing. Others become Sheriff.

        2. Doh!

      2. It takes a village to get a single mom hooked on pain killers.

        1. If the village didn’t exist, I might not drink liquor before noon.

      3. If you just give me control over your money and your freedom and your life and your children and your….. we can make the system work!

    3. “because the system allowed her to be”

      Really, the system prevented her from getting help, because by doing so, she would be admittedly breaking the law and facing jail time.

    4. Wait until Mama commits suicide because she can’t deal with the chronic pain and not having enough painkillers.

    5. Yeah, this is definitely a patriarchy issue since clearly the database only includes women…

  3. Telling the government about your private interactions with your doctor is the price we pay for civilization.

    1. Government is just the people we keep in agony together.

    2. It’s right here in the Social Contract? – line 1,476,629, sub-section F.

      *shows Social Contract to crowd like you show a book’s illustrations to kindergarners*

    3. Except of course for abortion. Any infringement on that privacy is the same as running a rape camp.

  4. At least CA moved away from triplicates. That was fucking ridiculous.

  5. Its pretty rare to see Hal’s first name spelled out.

    I had friends who worked for the company that does MethCheck. I regularly mocked them.

    1. Is that still used? I thought the Feds took over…

      1. No idea. Its name changed at some point. So maybe it has gone away too. Or they are doing it for the Feds.

        The thing is, the company’s initial business was something admirable. They did victim notification to let a crime victim know when the criminal was getting out of jail.

        The problem is, they kept expanding within the same customer base, and that leads to shadier stuff.

  6. It’s pretty disconcerting that there are any government databases of this type at all, frankly.

  7. But look at this

    “You know, my brother once told me that nothing someone says before the word “but” really counts.”

  8. Mr. Schaaf said in a recent interview in his Senate office. “Missouri needs to be the first state to resist, and the other states need to follow suit and protect the liberty of their own citizens

    FTW? Who is this anarchist extremist? And why does he hate the children? And where is this Missouri? It must be in Somalia. I bet there are no roads there, that’s for sure!

    Protect liberty? Bah, I’ve never heard of such a concept! Some kind of 18th century moonbattery!

    1. SIEG HEIL.

    2. Libertarians are just the new front group for the KKK I heard.

      1. Oh, you’re being too nice. The KKK is like a bus full of nuns holding babies, compared to those libertarians.

    3. To be fair, the roads in Missouri pretty much suck ass.

  9. Can’t have a police state without an “other” to justify it. In some places they are “counter-revolutionaries” or “wreckers”. In America they are drug users and sellers.

    1. Don’t forget sovereign citizen extremists

      Today, we look at a third threat?the “sovereign citizen” extremist movement. Sovereign citizens are anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement.

      1. Everyone to the right of Vladimir Lenin is an extremist. Don’t you watch MSNBC or read the NYT?

        1. The funny thing is that most of the “sovereign citizen”-types have markedly left-wing beliefs. Things like there being no real property and that they have a “right” as “living men” to eat (which includes “grazing” at supermarkets and dine-and-dashing).

          There was a case a while ago about some sovereign citizen dude who had his team going out and squatting in people’s homes while they were away for short periods, moving all of the owner’s things out and claiming adverse possession. These are hardly the antics of anything you see on the right.

      2. As attitudes about the drug was have become more cynical, the government has started trying to shift over to domestic and foreign terrorism to define the other.

    2. In America they are drug users and sellers.

      And smokers. And fat people.

    3. In America[,] they are drug users and sellers citizens.


  10. This has been going on for a while. When I was in the 7th grade (20 years ago), I used to make homemade fireworks. I would send my mom to ChemLab to buy me stuff for what she thought was science projects. After a she made a large purchase of potassium permanganate, the DEA showed up at my house. I showed them the fireworks, and they went on their way.

    1. “Is this the residence of one Walter White?”

    2. . After a she made a large purchase of potassium permanganate, the DEA showed up at my house. I showed them the fireworks, and they went on their way.

      Now I know you’re lying, because you left out the part where your dog got shot and you were locked up for the rest of your life.

      1. This was before dog killing became fashionable. 1992 or so.

    3. Interesting side note:
      The owners of ChemLab were all arrested and jailed, and their business assets were seized.…..l/me-19361

  11. I keep hearing around here that there has been a huge spike in heroin use due to the crack down on prescription painkillers. So which one is mkre dangerous? And which one is more managable?

    1. All drugs are bad, Mmkay?

    2. You still don’t understand, JB. The consequences are irrelevant, it’s their benevolent intentions that matter. And they had the best of intentions!

    3. So which one is more dangerous?

      Whichever one they’re talking about today.

      1. All drugs are max bad. There is no distinction to be made. Weed is as bad as Oxy is as bad as black tar heroin mixed with drano skank meth speedballs.

    4. My sister’s boyfriend switched from Oxy to heroin because of this. Sweet guy, terrible that he fell in with my sister.

  12. If you have nothing to hide?

    1. Then you’re guilty in the open.

      *shoots AlmightyJB’s dog*

  13. “I understand what they’re saying about privacy, I really do,” Sheriff Walter said. “But look at this?this is just one woman, one family. Those kids, they’re wondering where Mama is tonight. She’s hooked on painkillers, because the system allowed her to be.”

    What a mendacious shit.


      But yeah, fuck that stupid fucking cunt Walter.

    2. In the meantime, I have had family members in agony because they were denied access to pain meds. What about their children? Why should they watch their parents suffer because the system let them down by allowing people like Sheriff Walter to betray (yes, betray, the man is a fucking Benedict Arnold) the hard-won freedoms of our ancestors?

      1. My grandma had to do Lamaze breathing as she died because nobody in hospice care had the balls to do the right thing. Fuck these people.

  14. You know who else kept a lot of data on citizens….

    1. People playing Tropico?

      1. I’ve tried multiple times on every map on Tropico 3 and 4 to play as a “libertarian dictator” and it never works. You can do really well being a socialist wingnut.

  15. “It’s very selfish on Missouri’s part to hang their hat on this privacy matter,” Mr. Rogers said. “The rest of us suffer.”

    Who, exactly, is the “us” he’s referring to? Very nice of Rep. Rogers to be so concerned for the good people of Missouri, but if it’s all the same to him, he can fuck right off.

    1. “It’s very selfish on Missouri’s part to hang their hat on this privacy matter,” Mr. Rogers said.

      WOW. What a fucking piece of shit Mr. Rogers is.

    2. I hear Rep Rogers has difficulty controlling his prescription painkiller urges. So much so that he relies on fear of the government finding out to restrain them. Without that fear, he would be a raving painkiller junkie.

  16. What difference – at this point – does it make?

  17. Slow Reason news day so I’m gonna put this here:

    Sixty-seven percent of those polled agreed with the statement that U.S. military actions should be “limited to direct threats to our national security.” Only 22 percent agreed with the statement that as a “moral leader,” the United States “has a responsibility to use its military to protect democracy around the globe.”

    Poll: America Should Stay Out of Foreign Troubles

    1. And why the fuck would I want to protect democracy? Of all the goddamn idiotic justifications for war, this has to be the worst.

      I get it if someone wants to use military power to protect human life, but the things we do in the name of democracy are obscene.

      1. And why the fuck would I want to protect democracy?

        Exactly. 1: There are many definitions of “democracy,” and I don’t agree with most of them and 2: If people don’t want liberty for themselves, I’m sure as fuck not going to spend my liberty on em.

      2. Scruffy, my allegiance is to the Republic. To democracy!

        1. What you did there, I see it.

          1. Correction, I reached out with my mind and felt it.

      3. Democracy is a government of the people, because voting makes society and government into one! That’s why if you don’t vote then you have no right to complain, and if you vote the wrong way then you just have to suck it up because by voting you acquiesce to whatever the outcome may be! And democracy equals freedom, because when two wolves and a sheep vote for dinner, the sheep is free!

        1. George Carlin said NOT voting gave him every right to complain about the mess the rest of us created by voting these ass holes into office.

  18. “It’s very selfish on Missouri’s part to hang their hat on this privacy matter,” Mr. Rogers said. “The rest of us suffer.”

    We’ve got some smart people here, I challenge any one to make an articulate, sound defense of this bullshit. How is the state suffering because another state refuses to violate peoples rights? Also, any time I here a pol use the word selfish I feel like kicking something.

    1. No one here wants to make that defense. You should try HuffPo, all of the commentariat there are articulate and smart. Just ask them and report the responses back here.

    2. Ok, I’ll bite. Here we go, get prepared, cause my defense is bulletproof:


    3. They think Iowans are undermining Iowa’s tracking system by getting their prescriptions filled in Missouri. As a result, painkiller abuse in Iowa is so prevalent that there is almost no one in the state who isn’t hooked on Vicodin. Iowans are paying the government to track them, and they’re getting no benefit from it. Why, it’s almost as if the surrounding states should just dispense with their databases as well, but, of course, that would be crazy baby-killing talk.

      1. And there’s nobody that’s selling any painkillers they get from anywhere. Nobody.


      Rousseau didn’t believe the rights he called for existed in our natural state. They became necessary when we began to live in large groups. It is necessary to trust that men will have the same general values if we travel a mile from home, or a hundred miles. We hope not to be robbed or murdered. We hope a system of trade allows us to earn a living and obtain what we need. We hope those we find there treat each other, and strangers, decently. We hope our boat hasn’t landed us on the shores of a libertarian nation.

      1. . It is necessary to trust that men will have the same general values if we travel a mile from home, or a hundred miles.

        If that isn’t a false premise, I don’t know what is.

        1. Shorter Ebert: Fuck cultural diversity!

      2. The problem as I see it is that insurance companies are driven by the profit motive.

        Maybe we should make all filmmaking non-profit.

      3. Fuck Rousseau and his Jacobin acolytes and his proto-fascism, and fuck anyone who links him to John Locke and other figures in the tradition of the American freedom philosophy.

        1. Wholeheartedly agreed. Although Locke’s logorrhea enabled Rousseau to twist Locke’s premise around to his purposes.

        2. Maybe I should scroll down, shit.

          This, so this.

      4. Rousseau didn’t believe the rights he called for existed in our natural state.

        Rousseau was also an authority worshiping lickspittle whose ideas ultimately lead to the horrors of the French Revolution. So fuck anyone who quotes this motherfucker in the context of freedom.

        If there is a Hell, I hope that proto-Commie is being boiled in it.

  19. the primary tool the other 49 states use

    Don’t you mean the other 56 states? This is Obama’s America now, and he says there are 57 states. “50 states” is just a racist dogwhistle, right?

    1. Does this mean we get to cut California up into reasonably sized states?

      1. That would be a pretty hilarious side effect of breaking CA up.

  20. “That is some pretty warped logic.”

    What else is new on drug war front?

  21. Here’s an anti-nutpunch

    Will repost in PM Links.

    1. This content is currently unavailable

      …. for me at least.

      1. Are you at work? It’s Facebook. Blocked here too.

        1. Yes and no. I work from home and for myself so I give myself great liberty on the Internet. Maybe I just need to login to Facebook to see it but I’d rather stick a fork in my eye than login to Facebook.

          1. I’d rather stick a fork in my eye than login to Facebook.

            I totally understand.

  22. Am I miss remembering where FL’s got struck down?

    1. No Miss, (but I thought you were married, Ma’am) according to this they’re still doing it.

  23. Thank God for Missouri! And I hope the other state governments are violated in the most intimate places. (Metaphorically, of course. Literally they should be voted out of office and not allowed to even be notaries, much less have responsible positions like dog-catcher).

  24. …an armed pharmacist like Mr. Logan,….

    Did I read that right ? WTF ?

    1. I smell a new TV series. Joseph Doakes, Pharma-venger, weeknights on HBO.

    2. Yep. The NYTimes piece talks about him putting on his bulletproof vest and grabbing his guns before heading out to make arrests.

  25. Would it be wrong to hope that Sheriff Walter develops a neurological disorder or suffers an accident that leaves him in agony ? Not as a karmic revenge, but just so he may develop some empathy for other human beings.

    1. I was thinking a law barring Mr. Walter from ever getting a prescription for painkillers, but that would violate the Constitutional protection against bills of attainder, I think.

      1. I’m sure you meant “Constitutional protections” ironically.

  26. She’s hooked on painkillers, because the system allowed her to be.

    No. She’s. Not.
    She explained her pain and the source of it. She can’t be “addicted” to something she needs. Chronic pain is a health problem. It causes other health problems. Nonetheless, it is not ok to leave people in pain–severe pain–to assuage your fear of drugs.

    1. Yes.

      The Sheriff (and those who think like him) is a cruel piece of shit.

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