A sweeping overhaul of how Oklahoma doctors can prescribe opioids goes into effect next week. The goal is to address the opioid epidemic, but many patients should prepare to be cut off from their accustomed doses.
Governor Mary Fallin signed a series of bills into law in May that go into effect November 1. The rules put new restrictions on doctors to keep more Oklahomans from becoming tragic statistics.
The days of overprescribing opioids will soon be over in the Sooner State, at least that is the hope for Attorney General Mike Hunter.
“There’s going to be a transition for folks,” says Hunter. “I’m not insensitive to the fact that this is going to be a challenge for some people, but at the end of the day we’re going to be saving lives.”
One of the biggest changes is that doctors will only be able to prescribe a seven-day supply of opioids to new patients, who have to return the next week if they need more. After a second seven-day supply, the doctor and patient must enter into a written pain management agreement with follow-ups every three months.
Also, the so-called "Deadly Trinity" of painkillers, anxiety meds and muscle relaxers can only be prescribed if the doctor gives a strong warning about the risks.
Hunter says, “There continue to be prescribers, and they’re on our radar screen, who are being reckless with their patients’ health, and when we see that, we’re holding those doctors accountable.”
The new laws also protect Good Samaritans who call to report an overdose. Plus, in 2019, the entire state will move to an electronic prescription system to prevent fraud.
Cann-Help Wellness owner Travis Evans, a former opioid user himself, says many patients are coming to ask about CBD ahead of the change.
“We know there’s ways to manage those withdrawal symptoms with CBD products and other all-natural products that we’ve had nurse practitioners put together protocols for that and worked with doctors on that,” says Evans.
Evans and his wife Lori are hosting an event on November 5 called “A Story of Hope” to discuss legal alternatives to opioids for those with concerns.
“Everybody knows someone that’s been impacted or affected by this,” Evans says, “so bringing this thing out in the open and talking about it, bringing it to the light, allows people to know there’s other people that have been through this and they’ve found a way out.”
For more details on the new laws, click here.
To learn more about the Story of Hope event, click here.