NORMAN — Introducing House Bill 1419 to the Senate Public Safety Committee on Thursday, Sen. Rob Standridge said state leaders must acknowledge that Oklahoma has a problem with prescription drug abuse.
The Norman Republican said addressing the issue should be a central priority of the state’s public health strategy.
Authored by Rep. Richard Morrissette, HB 1419 is a bipartisan effort to address fraud by strengthening the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program. The measure won committee approval and will advance for consideration by the full Senate.
“Prescription drug abuse has emerged as a genuine public health risk in Oklahoma, and I think it’s critical that we examine new approaches to address it,” Standridge said. “While I am a firm believer in the good that pharmaceuticals can do, the potential negatives speak for themselves.
“I’m confident this proposal would have an immediate and positive impact on our state’s ongoing struggle with prescription drug abuse.”
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, more Oklahomans are dying due to overdoses of prescription drugs than illicit drugs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rank Oklahoma among the top states for both prescription painkiller sales and drug overdose death rates. The CDC also notes that from 2008-09, 1 in 12 Oklahomans age 12 or older used prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes.
“With study after study confirming Oklahoma’s rate of prescription drug abuse outpaces a broad majority of the states, it’s time for us to fully acknowledge the magnitude of this challenge,” Standridge said. “Just like illicit drug abuse, prescription drug abuse has a broad impact on crime rates, abuse and the deterioration of families. This is one of our state’s most pressing problems, and we cannot afford to ignore it.”