The Norman Transcript

Editorials

February 11, 2014

Oklahoma has a problem

NORMAN — State legislators have begun to acknowledge that Oklahoma has a pressing problem with prescription drug abuse.

Legislation filed by State Sen. Rob Standridge, a licensed pharmacist, would require registration of pain management clinics and would strengthen regulations on controlled substances in nursing homes.

Oklahoma Watch recently reported on the extent of the state’s problem. Pharmacies filled nearly 10 million prescriptions for narcotic painkillers and other controlled dangerous substances in 2013.

Additionally, of the nearly 16,000 medical professionals licensed to write narcotics prescriptions, about 1,500 of them wrote three-fourths of all controlled substances prescriptions in 2013.

Efforts to monitor over-prescribing and doctor shopping have had limited impacts. Oklahoma Watch reported that only about a fourth of providers ran the required checks before prescriptions were written.

Fatalities from drug overdoses are up 80 percent over the past decade. In 2012, 844 Oklahomans were killed by overdoses, most of them accidental. That’s more than were killed in traffic accidents.

The state also is beefing up on programs that encourage proper disposal of prescription drugs. Drop boxes located at police departments and sheriff’s offices allow safe disposal of leftover prescriptions.

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