According to PDMP proponents, because some people abuse prescription drugs, the government should track all people who use them – regardless of whether a person has committed any crime. We call this “inspection before the fact of any wrongdoing,” or “pre-crime,” the tendency in criminal justice systems to focus on crimes not yet committed.
In this year’s Missouri legislative session House Bill 1922 was introduced by Rep. Jay Barnes (R, 60), called “Prescription Abuse Registry”. Fortunately the bill was referred to the Health Insurance Committee with no further action.
Individuals 18 years and older who have been reported to the Department of Health and Senior Services by a health care provider or their parent or child that they believe such individual has abused controlled substances would be listed in the registry.
So far, Missouri is the only state without a PDMP.
Wait, that’s not all. Senate Bill 768 was introduced by Sen. Rob Schaaf (R, 34), called the “Prescription Drug Monitoring Act”. According to this bill, the Department of Health and Senior Services would be required to establish and maintain a program to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of all Schedule II through Schedule IV controlled substances by all licensed professionals who prescribe or dispense these substances in Missouri to anyone aged 18 or older. This bill was heard by the Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee with no further action.
Not to be deterred by defeat in the Missouri legislature, the St. Louis County Council passed its own version of a PDMP in March 2016, saying that it is too easy for people to become addicted to prescription drugs. And the City of St. Louis passed its own PDMP version in May.
The problems with PDMPs stem from our right to privacy and due process as protected by amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Ninth Amendment says that “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” This has been interpreted as justification for broadly reading the Bill of Rights to protect privacy in ways not specifically provided in the first eight amendments. The Fourteenth Amendment says that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
While we certainly wish no citizen to suffer from the very real and harmful effects of drug addiction, we also recognize that when the government interferes with an individual’s self determinism, even a self-destructive self determinism, we are sliding down the slope to Big Brother knows all, tells all, and controls all.
We much prefer the route of education and rehabilitation, where we beef up society’s efforts to handle drug problems with appropriate education and effective rehabilitation; not to mention curbing the abuse of psychiatric drugs and concomitant psychiatric fraud and abuse.
When psychiatrists or doctors prescribe dangerous, potentially life-threatening and addictive psychotropic drugs to children and adults, they should be charged with reckless endangerment because these drugs are documented to cause side effects including, but not limited to, suicide, mania, violence, heart problems, stroke, diabetes, death and sudden death.
For example, most of the ADHD literature prepared for public consumption does not address the abuse potential or actual abuse of methylphenidate (Ritalin.) Instead, methylphenidate is routinely portrayed as a benign, mild substance that is not associated with abuse or serious side effects. In reality, however, there is an abundance of scientific literature which indicates that methylphenidate shares the same abuse potential as other Schedule II stimulants. Regarding PDMP then, why not just correct the literature, instead of counting how many times a Ritalin prescription is filled? This would be a more productive way to address Ritalin abuse.
Start by educating yourself, your family, your legislators, your associates and acquaintances, about the dangers and abuse potential of psychiatric drugs.