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

Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order in July to create the program targeting what he called “pill mills.” The state began collecting opioid prescription information last month, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported .

About 500 Missouri residents died from overdosing on prescription painkillers in 2016, an increase from 100 in 2001.

Before the new program, the Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts could only act after receiving a complaint or when a doctor was charged with a crime.

Five doctors had their licenses revoked in Missouri last year. Two were automatic due to revocations by other states’ medical boards, while another two came after felony convictions. The fifth was disciplined after working while under the influence of narcotics in 2013 and testing positive for narcotics in 2015, according to the board.

But the state medical board didn’t discipline any doctors last year for overprescribing painkillers.

The board reinstated the licenses of two doctors who were previously disciplined for opioid-related issues. Both doctors’ licenses now have restrictions against prescribing controlled substances.

Greitens still has three vacancies to fill on the nine-member board. In November, he appointed Dr. Katherine Mathews of St. Louis University to the board.

“They need to be filled,” said Jeff Howell of the Missouri State Medical Associations, which gives recommendations to the governor. “A full board is a healthy board.”

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

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