The Norman Transcript

Homepage

April 7, 2014

Okla. a leader in prescription drug addiction

NORMAN — Editor’s Note: The following story is from a joint investigation by Oklahoma Watch and The Oklahoman.

On Jan. 27, 2010, Dena Kay Brasfield died in her sleep.

Two days earlier, the 40-year-old clothing store worker had gone to see Oklahoma City doctor Cecil Allen Moore, complaining of migraines, anxiety and panic attacks. He prescribed her unsually large doses of alprazolam, an addictive anti-anxiety drug, and oxycodone, a potent opiate painkiller.

The medical examiner ruled it an accidental overdose. Nobody reported the death to the Oklahoma Board of Osteopathic Examiners.

It wasn’t until late 2011, after receiving complaints about Moore from pharmacists, other patients and relatives, that the board launched an investigation of his prescribing practices. They soon made a gruesome discovery: Eight of Moore’s patients had died of overdoses in 2010 and 2011. Not one had been reported to the board.

By the time the board revoked Moore’s license in mid-2012 for prescribing violations, more than two years had passed since Brasfield swallowed her fatal cocktail of prescription drugs.

The eight deaths on Moore’s watch, and others like them, expose troubling gaps in the state’s system for combating an epidemic that has seen Oklahoma surge to near the top of national rankings for prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths.

In 2012, unintentional prescription drug overdoses claimed the lives of 534 Oklahomans. State health authorities say about half of them had taken drugs prescribed by their own doctors.

While much of Oklahoma’s enforcement efforts are aimed at drug-seekers, far less effort is dedicated to identifying, investigating and pursuing the problem providers — the doctors who supply the sometimes deadly dosages.

Despite the fact that almost one out of every two overdose deaths involves a drug the person was prescribed legally, state investigators don’t check regularly to see whether the prescriber might be linked to other overdose deaths.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
Sports
Opinion

Features

Must Read

Editorials

Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Business
Photos


Facebook