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Prescription drug database doomed in Senate

Republican Senator Rob Schaaf, of St. Joseph.
Jacob Fenston
Republican Senator Rob Schaaf, of St. Joseph.

 A Missouri senator has successfully killed a bill that would have authorized a government database to track people's prescription drug purchases.

Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf and his allies led an eight-hour filibuster Thursday against the legislation before supporters finally caved in. Schaaf, who's also a physician, said the bill would have violated citizens' privacy – a bigger concern, he said, than protecting people who abuse prescription drugs.

"If they overdose and kill themselves, it just removes them from the gene pool."

Supporters said the database would have helped stop "doctor shopping," in which people get prescriptions from multiple doctors to feed their drug habits. Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey co-sponsored the measure, and said he tried to reach compromise over privacy concerns.

"There were further efforts to tighten the bill, so that we're just getting to the problem people. We're not trying to create this big database to watch what people are buying, but really get to the people who are killing themselves."

The legislation died in an odd procedural way. Senators capitulated to Schaaf's demand to attach a clause that would send the question to voters. But then Dempsey declared that the bill would not receive a final vote before the legislative session ends May 18.

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Missouri Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a proud alumnus of the University of Mississippi (a.k.a., Ole Miss), and has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off the old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Mason, and their cat, Honey.