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White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske is urging Missouri, the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program, to adopt such a program to fight prescription drug abuse.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Kerlikowske said prescription drug abuse is by far the nation’s most deadly drug problem. Almost 21,000 deaths in the United States in 2009 were caused by prescription drug overdoses, he said. “The number of deaths as a result of prescription drug use and abuse are greater than heroin and cocaine overdose deaths combined,” he added.

Kerlikowske is scheduled to be in the St. Louis area Wednesday to promote prescription monitoring. Now that Florida has been able to shut down many of its “pill mills,” the prescription drug clinics have been opening in states including Missouri, Georgia and Kentucky, he said.

The article notes that Missouri State Senator Rob Schaaf led a successful filibuster earlier this year that killed a prescription monitoring proposal. Schaaf, a family physician, said the databases reveal sensitive information. “All they have to do is punch in your name and address and they can find out every controlled substance you’ve been prescribed,” he said.

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