House Bill 1419 could curb ‘doctor shopping’ prescription drug abuses

A bipartisan effort to curb prescription drug abuses in the form of “doctor shopping” has cleared the Oklahoma Legislature and is headed to Gov. Mary Fallin for her consideration. 

The legislation aims to address shocking statistics in the form of a National Survey on Drug Use and Health that found Oklahomans 12 years and older exceed the national average for consumption of painkillers “for non-medical use” by 232 percent.

State Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, is House sponsor of the legislation, which has been carried in the upper chamber by state Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman.

Morrissette, in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, thanked Standridge “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.”

Using both email and U.S. mail, House Bill 1419 could trigger “real-time” reporting to physicians by the state Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs to “red-flag” duplicate prescriptions. 

Morrissette said, in his release, he had worked on the issue for three years, saying he was motivated by the state’s unenviable position as a leading home for abuse of prescription pain pills. He said, “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.”

Rep. Morrissette said he will continue to work on the issue: “Next, we need to increase funding for in-patient treatment of addiction and to replicate other programs of drug counseling.” He thanked Dr. Terrill Hulson of Mercy Westbrook for counseling and advising him on the legislation.