New Oklahoma Law Ends Automatic Refills On Prescription Painkillers

Friday, November 1st 2013, 6:51 pm
By: News On 6

Effective November 1, you can no longer get automatic refills of any drug that has hydrocodone in it, like Percocet or Vicodin. You will have to go to or call your doctor every month to get more.

Oklahoma is number one in the nation in painkiller abuse and number five for painkiller deaths. More people die in this state from prescription drugs than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. We had more people die last year from drugs than in car accidents.

A new law hopes to change these stats.

Kyle Beatie grew up in Tulsa, went to Union High School and comes from a good family, but in college, he started using prescription painkillers.

He needed more to feed his habit, and at $20 to $30 a pill, he began to lie and steal to get them.

"Everything revolved around that--getting high. Nothing else mattered at all. It was just miserable," Beatie said.

Eventually, Beatie forged prescriptions to feed his addiction and that led to his arrest. He calls it the best thing that could've happened.

"I was at a crossroads, either go to prison or clean up your act, and that's what I chose to do and am still doing," Beatie said.

He was given a chance at drug court and, after a few setbacks, is clean, has a good job and graduates from the program in January.

Beatie is far from alone. Painkiller addiction is an epidemic in Oklahoma.

Lawmakers hope the new law cuts down on the number of pills that end up on the streets in the hands of the wrong people.

Right now, 300,000 people in the state are using painkillers for non-medical reasons. But many people have chronic painful conditions and legitimately need prescription painkillers over a long period. This new law will be inconvenient and could cost them more money.

"There's no one magic bullet to make this problem go away, but as the state and as providers, we have a responsibility to at least try to do something," said Dr. Andrew Revelis.

The specialists at Tulsa Pain Consultants check the state database to make sure patients aren't doctor shopping, do urine tests to make sure patients are taking the drugs they're prescribed, and do what they can to make sure those who need painkillers get them, while trying to keep them away from those who don't.

The new painkiller law started Friday, so if you got a prescription last week or last month that said you could have refills, it is now void. You'll have to contact or see your doctor to get more than a month's supply.

Doctors can still call in prescriptions, but they can't email them and they can't be transferred from one pharmacy to another.