- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 31, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Doctors in Oklahoma will be required to check a prescription drug database before prescribing certain addictive drugs under a bill signed into law on Tuesday by Gov. Mary Fallin.

After the Senate voted 35-10 for the bill, Fallin held a hastily called signing ceremony for the measure that has been a priority of hers for several years. It the first bill she has signed this legislative session, and it will take effect Nov. 1.

“The goal of the bill is to stop doctor-shopping in the state of Oklahoma,” Fallin said, referring to the practice of drug seekers going to multiple physicians to acquire prescription narcotics. “More Oklahomans die from prescription drug overdoses each year than they do from car wrecks in our state.”

According to statistics from the State Department of Health, Oklahoma’s drug overdose rate increased by nearly 400 percent from 1999 to 2013, and the state currently has the sixth-highest unintentional drug overdose death rate in the U.S.

Under the bill, doctors would have to access the database before prescribing certain highly addictive drugs or refilling prescriptions. The database, which is operated by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, includes real-time information on whether that patient has obtained prescriptions from another doctor.



Oklahoma already has a prescription drug database, but under current law doctor participation is voluntary with the exception of methadone, a highly addictive narcotic that is often used to treat heroin addiction.

Similar proposals that would make physician participation mandatory have been introduced in recent years, but have been opposed by the Oklahoma State Medical Association, which was concerned it would place a new unfunded mandate on health care providers. The association worked with legislators this year on a compromise measure and ultimately endorsed its passage.

“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,” OSMA President Dr. Todd Brockman said in a statement.

State Rep. Doug Cox, an emergency room physician from Grove who wrote the bill, said the drug monitoring database already has been expanded to include doctors in Arkansas and Kansas. He said state officials also are working to include Missouri physicians.

The bill previously passed the House on a 64-30 vote.

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Online:

House Bill 1948: https://bit.ly/1bO33FS

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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