Oklahoma is #1 in the abuse of prescription medications with more of our citizens dying from RX overdose than car accidents; 125 million pain pills prescribed in 2009, alone. By 2011, addiction to painkillers had become so pervasive that the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that Oklahomans 12 and older exceeded the national average for the consumption of painkillers for non-medical use by 232 percent.
“I first want to thank Senator Standridge of Norman for honorably representing his profession as a pharmacist and as a legislator, willing to meet in the center aisle for the sake of this important issue. Pharmacists are the first line of defense to insure that medications are available to those that need them while ensuring that those struggling with addiction are protected from self-destruction. Senator Standridge and I are working to preserve the good health of all Oklahomans and certainly not to punish anyone in need of health services,” said the bill’s House author state Rep. Richard Morrissette (D-OKC) upon the bill’s passage.
House Bill 1419 provides for real-time reporting to physicians by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs when prescriptions are filled by a licensed pharmacists. For those physicians using electronic patient medical records, OBN will send an email to trigger a red flag to appear in the right hand corner of the patients file when duplicate prescriptions are sought by that patient. Physicians using paper files will receive a notification by traditional post.
The bill represents three years of hard work for Morrissette’s office. Early opposition to the bill came from many sources. Ultimately, Morrissette wore down his detractors by educating them to the negative impact of RX abuse upon Oklahoma health outcomes, the stability of families and the economy.
“When you are 'Number 1 Worst,’ you are in a totally indefensible position. And, with these negative numbers, there isn’t a person in the state who hasn’t been impacted by RX abuse. Identifying those who “doctor shop” in real-time provides for intervention early in the addiction scenario to immediately interrupt the process. Next, we need to increase funding for in-patient treatment of addiction and to replicate other programs of drug counseling.
“I want to thank Dr. Terrill Hulson, MD , from Mercy Westbrook, for his guidance and support.” said Morrissette.
The legislation now goes to the desk of Governor Mary Fallin for her signature.