Taking Action

PDMP Agreement SignedCounty Executive Frank White, Jr. signs an agreement creating a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in Jackson County, while (L-R) County Legislative Chairman Scott Burnett, Legislator Crystal Williams, Legislator Dan Tarwater, Kansas City Mayor Pro Temp Scott Wagner and Jackson County Health Department Director Bridgette Casey applaud taking this action to fight prescription drug addiction and overdoses.

County Joins With Other Local Governments To Fight Overdose & Addiction Epidemic With Rx Drug Monitoring Program


Deaths from prescription drug overdoses have become a public health crisis in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To curb this epidemic, 49 states — all but Missouri — have established Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP).

While the Missouri Legislature has yet to create a statewide PDMP, Jackson County is joining other local governments from eastern and central Missouri to take action. They are establishing a program to monitor the dispensing of prescription drugs within their respective jurisdictions.

Tuesday — from opposite sides of the state — Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr., and his counterpart from St. Louis County, Steve Stenger, signed the special PDMP agreement.

“Jackson County is proud to partner with St. Louis County in establishing a program that will support coordinated care, better pain management, and the fight against opioid abuse,” said County Executive White as he prepared to sign the official documents at the Truman Medical Center in Kansas City. “Working with the Jackson County Legislature, my administration has taken action on this important issue.”

Stenger joined White via simulcast from the St. Louis County Department of Public Health in Berkley. “Heroin is a deadly epidemic in our region,” he said. “Many [heroin] abusers begin with prescription drugs.”

An ‘Essential Role’

Missouri not having a PDMP has made the state a “tourist destination,” Stenger added, for prescription drug abusers to “pill shop.”

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger participated in Tuesday's signing ceremony at Truman Medical Center via simulcast from the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.

PDMPs collect data about how many prescription drugs are being prescribed and dispenses within a given area. The database is accessible only to authorized users, such as medical professionals and law enforcement officials.

A U.S. Department of Justice Services study describes the “essential role” PMDPs can play in preventing prescription drug abuse. PDMP data can, for example, alert emergency room doctors that a patient seeking opioid painkillers may already have multiple prescriptions for these narcotics.

“Quite simply, prescription drug monitoring programs save lives,” Stenger stated. “I commend Jackson County Executive Frank White and the County Legislators for partnering with us to combat the rapidly growing opioid and heroin abuse in our state.” 

Multiple Partners

White praised St. Louis County for being “a leader in taking action to help reverse this destructive trend and provide the tools that will enable us to take action.” He recognized County Legislators Crystal Williams (2nd District At-Large) and Dan Tarwater (4th District) for helping lead the effort to establish a prescription drug monitoring database for Jackson County — “and the entire County Legislature for their unanimous support.”

Earlier this year, Williams emphasized, “Since the Missouri General Assembly hasn’t been unwilling to pass life-saving legislation, it has been left up to the counties to help address the opioid crisis.”

The cities of Independence and Kansas City are, likewise, partners in this localized PDMP initiative. Joining those cities, as well as Jackson and St. Louis counties, are the City of St. Louis, St. Charles County and St. Genevieve County.

In lieu of a state PDMP, White said it was crucial that these local governments — representing the most populous areas in Missouri — develop their own data collection programs. One in three Missourians lives in Jackson, St. Louis or St. Charles County.

“Here in Jackson County, we are going to do all we can to keep our people safe,” White said, “and to ensure that they will have a happy, healthy future.”

Frank White

"Here in Jackson County, we are going to do all we can to keep our people safe and to ensure that they will have a happy, healthy future.”
- Frank White, Jr.

PDMPs Work!

The need for a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) is urgent, stresses Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. A recent Kansas City Health Department estimate puts the number of people in Jackson County suffering a prescription drug addiction at 26,000. 

“Prescription drug abuse, especially opioids, is a growing problem,” White said as a local PDMP for Jackson County took effect.

A 2014 study the U.S. Department of Justice commissioned to gauge the effectiveness of PDMPs across the nation described this “growing problem”: 

Addiction, overdoses and deaths involving non-medical prescription drug use, especially narcotic pain relievers, have risen dramatically over the last decade. In 2010, drug-related poisonings were the leading cause of death due to unintentional injuries in the United States. The number of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids has more than tripled since 1999; in 2010 these deaths were greater than those involving heroin and cocaine combined.

The study also cited several statistics to back its conclusion that PDMPs play an “essential role” in reducing the costs associated with prescription drug abuse — the cost in terms of lives lost, as well as dollars and cents spent. Here are just three of those statistics:

  • Florida implemented a PDMP in 2011. Deaths attributable to oxycodone overdoses fell 41 percent in the state during the next year.
  • In Washington State, all prescription drug-related deaths dropped 27 percent between 2008 and 2012.
  • California’s PDMP resulted in a potential $57.2 million in savings (according to a January 2013 report) from reduced workers’ compensation claims and lost productivity due to prescription drug abuse. That figure represents a $15.50 return on every $1 invested in the state’s monitoring program.
Here in Jackson County, we are going to do all we can to keep our people safe,” White said, “and to ensure that they will have a happy, healthy future.”