Missouri is the only state without a state-sponsored physician drug monitoring program.

Dr. Stephen Halpin went to Wednesday night’s meeting of the Marion County Health Department Board hopeful of recruiting an ally in the local war against opioid addiction. When Halpin departed the meeting it was without a resolution from that body which would allow doctors in the county to join a physician drug monitoring program (PDMP).

The board’s reluctance to play a role in bringing the PDMP to northeast Missouri is not because it doesn’t recognize the opioid problem. Board member Frank Di Tillo reported portions of two regular meetings and one special meeting have dealt with the topic of opioids.

Sheriff Jimmy Shinn, who along with Marion County Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode joined Halpin in speaking in behalf of the PDMP, called prescription drug addiction the No. 1 drug-related headache his department faces.

“I’m very much for this (physician drug monitoring) program,” he said. “We’ve got to get ahead of the curve. I urge you to look at this.”

Taking a close look at the PDMP is exactly what Michelle Lehenbauer, chairwoman of the health department board, had in mind.

“I need to see how it works before I sign on,” said Lehenbauer, who is an RN.

Bode inquired how much time the board might need before rendering a decision. Sue Lewis, board member, said that hopefully by its January meeting it might be prepared to give an answer.

Marion County doctors are requesting that they be allowed to join a data base that was established in St. Louis County, but now includes the Kansas City area and most counties in southeast Missouri. The PDMP would help physicians determine if the patient they are seeing is a legitimate chronic-pain patient or a narcotic abuser.

“Doctors are not the problem, but we want to be part of the solution,” said Halpin.

The doctor referred to the St. Louis County PDMP as a “stopgap measure,” explaining that he anticipates the legislature will create a statewide PDMP in the near future. Missouri is the only state in the U.S. without such a program.

On Oct. 30, Halpin initially pitched joining the St. Louis County PDMP to the county commission. While the commissioners – Bode, Larry Welch and Steve Begley – voiced support, they took no official action. They instead encouraged Halpin to work through the health department on the PDMP. That set the stage for Wednesday night’s meeting.

By Danny Henley | Hannibal Courier Post