opioids | KBIA


Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/ Side Effects Public Media

Missouri's third-largest county has filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical manufacturers and drug distributors, accusing them of causing the drug epidemic through aggressive and fraudulent marketing of prescription opioids.

Officials in St. Charles County filed the suit Monday, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The lawsuit says the suburban St. Louis County spends millions of dollars each year to combat the public nuisance created by opioid abuse.

Missouri Prison Officials Cracking Down to Stop Overdoses

May 7, 2018

 Missouri prison officials are working to stem the flow of contraband after multiple overdoses, including a few that were deadly.

The Missouri Department of Corrections began tracking last May after inmates began overdosing in administrative segregation, which is one of the most secure and isolated parts of prison. Over the next nine months, there were 146 overdoses spread throughout the state prison system, with multiple drugs to blame, according to information the St. Louis Post-Dispatch obtained through a records request.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A new CDC report based on emergency department data shows a rapid uptick in opioid overdoses on a national level, but fentanyl in particular has hit Missouri’s radar.

“It’s coming on the scene hot,” Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, said of the enormously concentrated schedule II synthetic opioid. “It’s being produced in China and Mexico, coming up through the southern part of Texas, Arizona, from Mexico.”

Officer Ron Meyers drove down a dirt road 20 minutes outside the small city of Chillicothe, Ohio. As he passed each home, he slowed down and squinted, searching for an address. Out here, the house numbers are written on the front of homes in marker or in faded numbers clinging to old mailboxes. There’s no GPS.

For five years now, the Missouri legislature has considered legislation to create a prescription drug monitoring database that would allow pharmacists and physicians to look at their patient's prescription history for signs of misuse of narcotics. And for five years, Missouri pharmacists like Erica Hopkins have watched those efforts fail with disappointment.

Nurse Catherine “Bizz” Grimes moves like her name sounds: at a frenetic pace. She darts across the hall from the prenatal diagnosis clinic at Indiana University Health University Hospital in Indianapolis, sits down at her cubicle, puts on her headset over curly white blonde hair and starts dialing.

Public health experts on a panel in St. Louis Friday admonished Missouri lawmakers for failing to pass a prescription drug monitoring bill during the last legislative session. They also called for more treatment centers.

At least 712 people died after opioid overdoses in the bi-state St. Louis region last year — nearly 200 more than the year before, according to the anti-addiction group NCADA St. Louis. Missouri is the only state without a statewide database.