With prescription painkiller abuse, addiction, and overdoses a massive problem across the country, some 49 states have brought in databases to track excess prescriptions—and then there is Missouri. The state is the only holdout that has refused to create a monitoring program, even though law enforcement officials say the lack of a program not only makes it harder to tackle abuse in Missouri, it brings in dealers and addicts from the eight states it borders, the New York Times finds. "Welcome to Missouri—America's drugstore," complains an emergency room physician in St. Louis. "We aren't just allowing abuse, we've created a business model for dealers."
Efforts to introduce a state database have been blocked by a small group of lawmakers led by state Sen. Rob Schaaf. The Republican calls it a privacy issue and once said that if users "overdose and kill themselves, it just removes them from the gene pool." There are some "people who say you are causing people to die—but I’m not causing people to die. I'm protecting other people’s liberty," he says, suggesting other states follow Missouri's lead to "protect the liberty of their own citizens." In Scott County, which borders Kentucky, the lack of a database frustrates Richard Logan, a pharmacist who doubles as a sheriff's deputy. He tries to keep track of apparently fraudulent prescriptions and sometimes has to come out from behind the counter and arrest customers, but "I'm only one guy, and for every person we get to, there are probably 100 who we can't," he says. Last year, fatal overdoses nationwide rose for the 11th year in a row. (Read more Missouri stories.)