Missouri: Creating a Controlled Substance Database{1}

by Alexander H
Over the years, the implementation of databases has been growing exponentially, especially in the medical field. The Missouri Senate is currently trying to pass a bill called the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Act, which is designed to maintain a database of information for those who use controlled substances. The purpose is to ultimately reduce the illegal sale of prescription narcotic drugs by tracking nearly all aspect of a prescription. Currently, a similar variation of this bill is in effect in 46 states and Missouri seeks to follow in their footsteps. In terms of information, the database will include: the date of the prescription, new/refill status, prescriber’s identification number, person who received the prescription from dispenser, source of payment, drug dispensed, number of days’ supply, quantity, patient ID number, and the patient’s contact information. By tracking this information, police and doctors will be able to track the progress of the substance use as well as track where the drugs came from. In addition, there will also be a method of tracking physicians who may be prescribing too much medication to a patient and can lead to questioning of their prescribing abilities.

Although there is the benefit of tracking such prescriptions, the author dives into the main issue of such a system. By generating this database, it is assumed that ANY user of controlled substances can sell their drugs for a profit. This idea is currently receiving much heat from the citizens of the state, claiming that it is a violation of their rights since it is a drug they own to begin with. Even if a drug is taken for sleep deprivation, the user will be included in the database. This characteristic has been received as a violation of the user’s right to own drugs and an attempt on the state to regulate yet another aspect of their lives.

The use of a database itself connects to the class; however, the reception of its use is an element to observe. Not all databases can be used in a productive manner by everyone. When designing a database, the abundance of information can be a treasure trove for hackers looking to siphon and steal information. Aside from security reasons, the information may be useful for one party yet seem like a burden or lack of privacy for another. Therefore, the creation of a database should take into consideration how its users will receive the implementation.

I am biased in my decision to support this legislation due to the fact that I do not use any controlled substances. It does not hurt to have a database with the information available to reduce illegal use. However, if I was indeed a user, I can see why having so much personal information stored in a database will make me feel uneasy.



Lilly, J. (2012, April 16). News-leader. Retrieved from http://www.news-leader.com/article/20120417/OPINIONS05/304170017/Missouri-prescription-drug-database (Retrieved on May 13, 2012)