JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has passed a bill to make it legal for organizations to provide free needles to drug users.

House members voted 135-13 Thursday to send the bill to the Senate.

Republican Rep. Holly Rehder has said Missouri groups now pass out clean syringes to intravenous drug users with the goal of preventing the spread of hepatitis C and HIV through dirty needles. But state law bans possessing drug paraphernalia, which puts the needle exchanges in murky legal waters.

The State Medical Board wants to tighten restrictions on doctors’ abilities to prescribe opioids in some instances, and one of the changes is that patients will be asked for a urine sample for drug testing.


Arkansas has the second-highest opioid prescription rate nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the proposed regulations are part of an effort to combat the deadly overdose crisis in the state.

Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane told the medical board at a hearing for public comments Thursday that opioid abuse, particularly heroin use, is going up, and overdoses are increasing.


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Legislature is considering a pair of bill proposals to curb the availability of prescription opioids statewide.


ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri is collecting and investigating opioid prescription data through a statewide drug monitoring program to identify doctors and clinics that overprescribe painkillers.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Chief Justice Zel Fischer is calling to expand drug treatment courts to help fight opioid misuse.

Fischer in prepared remarks for the annual State of the Judiciary Wednesday said he expects treatment courts will be on the front lines of the opioid epidemic.

But Fischer says admission into the programs has dropped an average of 23 percent since a 27-percent funding cut this fiscal year. He added that there are 15 counties now without any access to treatment courts.