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Four Oklahoma opioid bills scheduled for hearings Wednesday

Oklahoma City — The House Judiciary committee could decide whether to advance much of Oklahoma's anti-opioid agenda on Wednesday. The Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse, led by Attorney General Mike Hunter, met Monday morning at the statehouse to go over legislation related to pain and addiction. The meeting started more than half an hour late because commission members got stuck in hordes of protesting teachers, and at times the proceedings were barely audible over protesters in the hallways outside the meeting room.

Four of the 12 bills related to opioids this session are scheduled to go before the House Judiciary committee on Wednesday. The committee can decide whether to recommend:

• Senate Bill 1446, which would limit a first opioid prescription for acute pain to seven days. Acute pain is expected to resolve once the injury or illness causing it heals, usually in three months. If seven days' worth of pills isn't enough, the provider could prescribe them for another week. Providers would have to review opioid prescriptions every three months for patients with chronic pain. The bill exempts cancer pain, hospice patients and opioids like methadone used to treat addiction. Rep. Tim Downing, a member of the opioid commission and vice chair of the judiciary committee, said he expects the bill to move forward without much trouble. “I don't foresee any concerns there,” he said.

• Senate Bill 1367, which would create a limited “Good Samaritan” bill. Police couldn't arrest a person for prescription drug offenses if the person called for help for someone who had overdosed. It appears the bill wouldn't apply to people who possess other types of drugs.

• Senate Bill 1124, which would require most pain management clinics to register with the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure. Clinics that aren't owned by a doctor, or are owned by a doctor with a history of illegal drug distribution, wouldn't be allowed to register. Hunter said the commission intended for pain clinics to register with the Oklahoma Board of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, and he hopes registration with the licensing board won't replace that.

• Senate Bill 1128, which would require electronic prescribing of opioids by January 2021. It would include some exemptions that would allow for written or faxed prescriptions. Pharmacists wouldn't have to verify that a prescription fell under an exemption before filling it.

Only one opioid bill has become law so far this session. Gov. Mary Fallin announced Monday after that she had signed Senate Bill 1078, which will make fentanyl trafficking a crime starting in November. Two bills failed to meet deadlines. Another e-prescribing bill and Good Samaritan bill died in the Senate, where they started. The remaining five bills don't have a hearing scheduled, but still could move forward.

Meg Wingerter, Staff Writer

Meg Wingerter

Meg Wingerter has covered health at The Oklahoman since July 2017. Previously, she lived in Topeka, Kansas, and worked at Kansas News Service and The Topeka Capital-Journal, where she earned awards for business coverage. She graduated from... Read more ›