New Law Aims To Decrease Prescription Drug Abuse In Oklahoma

Wednesday, April 1st 2015, 11:32 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahoma ranks number one in the country for the non-medical use of prescription drugs, and now our state is taking action to fight the startling statistic.

A database could help doctors identify which patients are addicted to prescription drugs.

Every time a patient goes to the pharmacy to fill a prescription it would be logged into a database. If a patient does that often for high doses of painkillers, that could be a red flag to doctors.

Mrs. America, Michelle Evans wears a sash to stop prescription drug abuse.

In Oklahoma, more people overdose on prescription drugs than cocaine and heroin, and her brother, Josh Wilson, was one of them.

"It was hard for the whole family, and not being able to help him. He went to a physician and it wasn't an illegal drug, so there wasn't a lot we could do," Evans said.

She helped fight for legislation - now a law - that requires doctors to check a database before writing prescriptions for certain addictive drugs.

She thinks it could have made a difference for her brother.

"If this would have been, you know, four or five years ago, I may have not lost my brother. A physician may have seen that he had a problem and he could have had a conversation and said, 'Hey, there is an issue,'" Evans said.

Dr. Adam Wallace at Pain Management of Tulsa showed us an entry in the database. It lists every prescription - date and dosage and the doctor who prescribed it.

It helps Wallace identify patients who might be "doctor shopping" for prescription drugs.

"We were doing that before the new law came out, checking it more frequently than is required, monitoring the urine drug screens, calling in for random pill counts," Wallace said.

All patients at the clinic must sign a contract, clearly stating “pain medication can be addictive."

"It's dangerous medication and they need to abide by the rules," Wallace said.

Allen's brother became addicted to painkillers after a soccer injury. She doesn't want anyone else's injury spiraling into addiction and hopes the database might help.

The database has been around for years. It's run by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and doctors have a login and can access patient information there.

Pharmacists are responsible for logging prescriptions when they're filled.

They use a different interface that connects to the OBN database.

The law goes into effect in November.