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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signs prescription monitoring bill

Health
Health | Feb 8, 2018

Fallin signs Oklahoma prescription drug database bill (2015-03-31)

Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill Tuesday to help reduce drug abuse and overdose deaths by requiring that doctors check a patient database before prescribing highly addictive medication.

House Bill 1948, the first piece of legislation signed this year, will go into effect on Nov. 1.

Physicians who check the database can find out if a patient is “doctor shopping,” or trying to get multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors. The initial database check would be required with the first prescription for three classes of drugs. Subsequent checks would need to be made at least once every 180 days.

Fallin predicted the bill would save lives, saying hundreds of people die every year in Oklahoma by overdosing on prescription drugs.

Related Photos

State Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, Rep. Doug Cox and Sen. A.J. Griffin stand behind Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday as she signs a prescription drug bill into law at the state Capitol. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8bb8c81f60a5d360758099cb0d7a5322.jpg" alt="Photo - State Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, Rep. Doug Cox and Sen. A.J. Griffin stand behind Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday as she signs a prescription drug bill into law at the state Capitol. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN " title="State Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, Rep. Doug Cox and Sen. A.J. Griffin stand behind Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday as she signs a prescription drug bill into law at the state Capitol. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN "><figcaption>State Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, Rep. Doug Cox and Sen. A.J. Griffin stand behind Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday as she signs a prescription drug bill into law at the state Capitol. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-0a5f4fb149d1bb21cc05e0f5e00318a1.jpg" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-7464854c6f03f0f007c01802c95f2f6c.jpg" alt="Photo - Gov. Mary Fallin hands a pen to Rep. Doug Cox after signing a prescription drug bill into law Tuesday, March 31, 2015, at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Behind left to right are Sen. Ervin Yen, Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman and Sen. A.J. Griffin. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN " title=" Gov. Mary Fallin hands a pen to Rep. Doug Cox after signing a prescription drug bill into law Tuesday, March 31, 2015, at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Behind left to right are Sen. Ervin Yen, Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman and Sen. A.J. Griffin. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN "><figcaption> Gov. Mary Fallin hands a pen to Rep. Doug Cox after signing a prescription drug bill into law Tuesday, March 31, 2015, at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Behind left to right are Sen. Ervin Yen, Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman and Sen. A.J. Griffin. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-30964614dfedc79b97048b5376a67573.jpg" alt="Photo - Sen. A.J. Griffin speaks Tuesday, March 31, 2015, as Gov. Mary Fallin prepares to sign a prescription drug bill into law at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Behind her are Gov. Fallin and Rep. Doug Cox. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN " title=" Sen. A.J. Griffin speaks Tuesday, March 31, 2015, as Gov. Mary Fallin prepares to sign a prescription drug bill into law at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Behind her are Gov. Fallin and Rep. Doug Cox. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN "><figcaption> Sen. A.J. Griffin speaks Tuesday, March 31, 2015, as Gov. Mary Fallin prepares to sign a prescription drug bill into law at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Behind her are Gov. Fallin and Rep. Doug Cox. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-fcd7ac2aa932a02c55632c8922f16ea9.jpg" alt="Photo - Sen. Ervin Yen, Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, Rep. Doug Cox and Sen. A.J. Griffin stand behind Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday, March 31, 2015, as she signs a prescription drug bill into law at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN " title=" Sen. Ervin Yen, Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, Rep. Doug Cox and Sen. A.J. Griffin stand behind Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday, March 31, 2015, as she signs a prescription drug bill into law at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN "><figcaption> Sen. Ervin Yen, Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, Rep. Doug Cox and Sen. A.J. Griffin stand behind Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday, March 31, 2015, as she signs a prescription drug bill into law at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman STEVE SISNEY - THE OKLAHOMAN </figcaption></figure>

“I think we’re getting off to a great start in our legislation session, especially having a bill of this magnitude being our first bill to pass,” Fallin said.

The bill won final passage earlier in the day on a 35-10 vote without debate in the Oklahoma Senate. It earlier passed the Oklahoma House.

“It’s important because we’re losing Oklahomans to over-prescription and overuse of these very dangerous drugs,” said Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, the Senate author of the bill.

“We’re thrilled that we have another stopgap in place and that our physicians will have access to this tool and now will be required to use the tool in order to help them provide their patients the best quality of care.”

She expressed appreciation for the work of the governor, key lawmakers and the media on a legislative initiative that doctors were slow to embrace.

“I want to say thank-you to the press, and I know that doesn’t happen very often,” Griffin said. “But we’ve had leadership shown within the press community in Oklahoma to make sure we did not allow this issue to be swept under the rug.”

The Oklahoman and other media outlets have carried multiple stories about the problem of prescription drug addiction.

State health statistics indicate a total of 534 people died of prescription drug overdose in Oklahoma in 2012, and there were 9.7 million prescriptions for controlled substances last year, enough to give 50 pills to every person in the state.

Last year, the Oklahoma Legislature failed to approve a bill to require doctors to check the database every time they write a prescription for these addictive drugs. Medical groups lobbied against that bill, saying its requirements would be burdensome for doctors.

This year’s bill was supported by the Oklahoma State Medical Association. Republican Rep. Doug Cox, an emergency room doctor from Grove, was a primary supporter.

“It’s kind of sad that in today’s world that doctors and pharmacists are almost put in a police mode and part of law enforcement to make sure there’s no diversion going on,” he said. “But on the other hand, the first thing we learn in medical school is the mantra ‘first do no harm,’ and really, checking the prescription drug monitoring program in my opinion is the first step in making sure we’re not doing any harm.”

Republican Sen. Ervin Yen, an Oklahoma City anesthesiologist, voted against the bill based on constituent concerns.

“I’ve had a lot of doctors that don’t like the bill no matter how it’s written,” he said.

The measure would require doctors to check the database for opiate painkillers, anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax and Valium, and carisoprodol, a frequently abused muscle relaxer marketed as Soma. The database also includes Kansas and Arkansas.

Enforcement of the law will be through medical licensing boards.

Oklahoma State Medical Association President Dr. Todd Brockman praised the bill.

“We are pleased that lawmakers and the medical community were able to come together with a common-sense compromise that helps address doctor shopping while trying to minimize the burden on prescribers and their law-abiding patients,” he said. “Although nobody likes placing new unfunded mandates on physicians, we recognize the seriousness of this problem and want to be a part of the solution.”

Rick Green

Rick Green is the Capitol Bureau Chief of The Oklahoman. A graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., he worked as news editor for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City before joining... Read more ›

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