COLUMBIA, Mo. - Boone County medical facilities dispensed opioids at a lesser rate than the average county participating in a local prescription drug monitoring program.
The most recent quarterly report from St. Louis County shows that Boone County doctors and pharmacies dispensed 526 opioid prescriptions for every 1,000 residents. The average rate for the 72 counties participating in the St. Louis County program is 658 prescriptions.
Boone County joined the program in 2017 along with several other counties across the state. St. Louis County received a federal grant allowing local jurisdictions to use its software to track prescriptions for drugs like opioids. Supporters of the program say it can help curb prescription drug abuse by alerting health care professionals if a customer has filled a prescription around the same time they try to get another one.
Females in Boone County were prescribed opioids at a higher rate than the statewide average, according to the data, particularly females 65 years of age or older.
Bill Morrissey, pharmacist at Kilgore's Pharmacy, said the software has helped him and his staff be more deliberate in deciding not to fill a prescription for painkillers. Before, Morrissey said staff had to make judgment calls based on how frequently people came in or where they came from.
"When you have an objective, 'Hey, you filled this pharmacy on this date at this amount,' that's good information to have," Morrissey said.
The program does not have full participation across the state. In mid-Missouri, Randolph, Callaway, Maries, Moniteau and Morgan counties have not agreed to take part in the PDMP. These "holes" in the system can lead to patients seeking out those counties and fulfilling prescriptions there, where pharmacies and doctors can't see how frequently they have been filled, said Columbia/Boone County Board of Health member Dr. Michael Szewczyk.
"It'd be a lot better if we could have a uniform, statewide system," Szewczyk said.
The 2018 annual PDMP report shows the average length of a prescription lasted 17 days.