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Gov. Kevin Stitt signs bills addressing opioid crisis, medical practice in Oklahoma

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Governor Kevin Stitt at a press conference at the Oklahoma City Capitol March 1.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed eight bills Tuesday, including some that revised pharmaceutical and medical practice laws in Oklahoma.

The bills Stitt signed included Senate Bill 848, which offers a plan for opioid safety with fewer restrictions, according to a press release.

The law revises Senate Bill 1446, which put regulations on doctor prescriptions in an effort to prevent patients with minor pain from being prescribed with high doses of opioids.

This change comes after SB 1446 caused a number of patients in serious pain to be dropped by their doctors due to the fear of the doctors losing their practice. According to a press release, doctors were afraid suspicions of bad medical prescriptions by the DEA would cause legal trouble on their end.

Prescribing limits on DEA’s Schedule II list – a list created by the DEA providing information on certain drugs’ acceptable medical use and potential for abuse – still remains from SB 1446, but this new bill will excuse doctors of possible criminal charges if they were to prescribe lower tier drugs not on Schedule II.   

The new law will also prohibit the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs from investigating doctors without a state licensing board. If the state licensing board has not already found a violation within the doctor’s procedures, the OBNDD cannot intervene.

Stitt also signed House Bill 2632 on Tuesday, according to the press release. This law now allows patients to pick their pharmacy of choice. With the signing of HB 2632, it simultaneously established the Patient’s Right to Pharmacy Choice Act.

This law comes after Stitt’s first veto of an almost identical bill, which he vetoed because it would have governed specific health care plans in a manner that was not acceptable to federal law, according to a press release.

HB 2632 was signed to help regulate pharmacy benefit managers, according to a press release. John Echols, author of HB 2632, said this provides local pharmacies with a chance to gain more consumers and compete with pharmacy benefit managers.

Echols said it is not fair for smaller pharmacies to be pushed out of the picture by bigger chain pharmacies.

“There’s nothing wrong with big pharmacy chains,” Echols said, “but there is something wrong with using your power in the market to force people away from the mom and pop’s where you may get better service.”

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