Sen. Rob Standridge this week said the state of Oklahoma has an opportunity to establish itself as a leader in addressing the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. While many studies show prescription drug abuse is a growing trend across the country, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) rank Oklahoma among the top states for both prescription painkiller sales and drug overdose death rates.
Standridge, who is also a pharmacist, said the scope of the state’s problem makes it a pressing public health concern with growing consequences. The Norman Republican was recently featured in a PBS Newshour segment about legislative efforts to address the issue. Standridge is Senate author of House Bill 1419, a bipartisan effort to strengthen the state’s prescription monitoring program.
“Our tendency to use prescription drugs early and easily is contributing to this growing problem, which is taking a tremendous toll on our state,” said Standridge, R-Norman. “With methamphetamine abuse in teens and adults at very troubling levels, we must also examine the role prescription drug use might play in this problem. It’s important that we have an open dialogue about this issue, which demands a response from state leaders.”
HB 1419 provides for real-time reporting to physicians by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (OBNDD). The agency will be able to send a message flagging patients when they attempt to fill typically abused prescription drugs repeatedly. The measure has been approved by both houses of the Legislature, but has been referred to a House conference committee for further consideration.
The bill is scheduled for the House Conference Committee on Public Health, on Monday, May 13.
“As a culture, it is time for us to have a frank discussion about the issue,” Standridge said. “If society dictates a problem that may be solved through non-pharmaceutical means demands treatment with powerful drugs, then society may be at fault. As we drift further in this direction, we open the door toward more widespread abuse. House Bill 1419 is an important step toward controlling the problem, but it is only a step – this is an issue that demands a broader response from the Legislature.”