A slate of bills intended to fight opioid addiction moved forward in the Oklahoma House this week.
Senate Bill 1128 requires electronic prescribing, which experts see as the most effective step the state can take in reducing the supply of the addictive painkillers. That measure, however, now calls for an e-prescribing pilot program in counties with populations of more than 200,000 to evaluate the practice.
That makes some doctors exempt.
"It’s very expensive. The reason we wrote the exemptions in there for private practice physicians that don’t have computers is because it costs $40,000 to put in your office and it’s $400 a month to maintain," said Rep. Dale Derby.
With a House bill on e-prescribing also advancing, the measures will go to conference committee.
Another measure approved by the House Judiciary Committee would limit how many doses of an opioid patients get.
Senate Bill 1446 limits initial prescriptions for opioids to a seven-day supply. A second seven-day supply cannot be prescribed for at least seven days.
Derby said whether patients must be seen again before that second prescription is at doctors’ discretion.
"Most of this is acute injuries, acute trauma, either surgeries or something of that nature. So, they may or may not be seen, but it allows for the prescription to be written without being seen," Derby said.
Longer courses of opioids require regular attempts to get patients taking less of them, onto another drug or into another form of pain management. The law would not apply to terminally ill patients, people with cancer or nursing home residents.
Bills creating a Good Samaritan law and limiting opioid prescriptions also advanced from the judiciary committee.
Gov. Mary Fallin has already signed a bill criminalizing possession of fentanyl, a powerful and often deadly narcotic painkiller increasingly being cut into heroin.