Missouri 7th in Nation in Prescription Overdose Deaths

October 10, 2013 

A national study says Missouri has one of the nation’s highest death rates from prescription drug overdoses. But the survey suggests seven things the state can do to improve that record.

The study by the Trust for America’s Health says only South Dakota has created fewer laws or programs to fight prescription drug abuse, which the Trust says has become a national epidemic. It says Missouri has the nation’s seventh-worst rate of prescription drug abuse deaths. Missouri has acted on three of 10 issues that experts tell the Trust are most effective in attacking the problem.

And Rich Hamburg of Trust for America’s Health says prescription drug abuse is a bigger problem than problems we sometimes think are big. The trust says prescription drug overdoses kill more people each year than heroin and cocaine combined, and kill more people in many states than die each year from vehicle crashes. Hamburg says Missouri’s death rate has tripled in the last decade.

It’s also the only state that does not have a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a database that traces the prescribing and dispensing of prescriptions. St. Joseph Senator Rob Schaaf, a physician, has led blocking opposition to the legislation.

Hamburg also says a law that keeps criminal charges from being filed against an overdose case who seeks medical help.

Learn more about the report here. Read a recent Kansas City Star article about the report here.