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Columbia monitoring program cracks down on opioid abuse

Hundreds of Columbia doctors and pharmacists participated in a new prescription drug monitoring program. (Mark Slavit/KRCG 13)

Boone County health officials said their first report from the St. Louis County Prescription Drug Monitoring Program gave them a baseline on Columbia’s opioid abuse problem.

Columbia was one of 48 jurisdictions participating in the program from St. Louis County that covers more than 70 percent of Missouri’s population and nearly 90 percent of Missouri’s healthcare providers.

Columbia pharmacist Bill Morrissey said the program was a new tool to identify someone in Columbia who abused opioid painkillers.

“Some of the numbers show that we are in 80 percent of reporting whether that’s prescriptions or at pharmacies," Morrissey said. "That’s a pretty good percentage. That’s way better than where we were.”

Columbia health officials said the numbers in the first report lacked long-term information. They said the accuracy of their data increased as they got more reports.

Columbia Mayor Brian Treece knew first hand that opioid abuse existed in Columbia.

“There have been 758 emergency room admissions because of opioid misuse, abuse or overdose," Treece said. "Opioid abuse is a national emergency. It’s a statewide crisis. It’s a local epidemic.”

Codeine, morphine, oxycontin, vicodin, and xanax were commonly abused opioid drugs.

About 100 of Columbia’s 1,000 providers participated in the new monitoring program. Program organizers wanted more doctors to sign up to help prevent drug abuse and overdose.

Columbia community leaders planned to host a public summit on Nov. 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott to learn more about the opioid epidemic.

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