Attorney General Mike Hunter discusses future plans for the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse with reporters after Thursday's meeting.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter and members of the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse today at a special meeting announced the commission will seek continuation of its work examining the scope of the state’s opioid epidemic next year.
Commission members agreed to recess over the summer months and schedule a meeting in the fall to begin looking at what more needs to be done during the 2019 legislative session, as well as request the legislature continue the commission. The commission members will also look at the recommendations made this year to determine what additional resources are needed by agencies to fully implement this year’s policies.
Attorney General Hunter said the strides made this year were monumental.
“The policies and procedures we implemented through legislation this year will save lives,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The engagement by members throughout this process was heroic and we certainly couldn’t have had the positive result without the time, energy and efforts of everyone working together.
“We regret that we are losing two key champions of our efforts in Sen. AJ Griffin and Rep. Tim Downing, who chose not to seek re-election to their seats. They worked tirelessly throughout the last year to ensure the legislation recommended by the commission made its way through.
“We appreciate Sen. Griffin and Rep. Downing’s service, wish them well and look forward to continuing communications with them as we move forward.”
Seven bills recommended by the commission were signed into law by the governor. The new laws give more tools to law enforcement personnel, prevent the diversion of opioid prescriptions from flooding the market and hold distributors, manufacturers and businesses accountable.
See all the new laws and how they will combat the state’s opioid epidemic, here: https://bit.ly/2JPI6eN.
“It is rare to see this many bills pass through like these did and to get it all done in one year is even more incredible,” Rep. Downing said. “Accomplishing this in such a short amount of time is a great example of visionary leadership by Attorney General Hunter and a testament to the dedication of the members of the commission. It was exciting to be a part of this process.”
Sen. Griffin followed Rep. Downing’s remarks and said the commission’s work should continue.
“It’s important to shepherd in more change to combat the epidemic,” Sen. Griffin said. “I am very proud of the work we did and all we were able to accomplish. The commission’s work has the ability to help save more lives. I encourage everyone to use this year as momentum for more changes next year.”
At the meeting, commission members also discussed the implementation of House Bill 2795, requiring medical facility owners to register with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN), and House Bill 2796, requiring manufacturers and distributors of opioids to make data available for review by the OBN.
OBN Director John Scully said his agency is currently taking action to locate all of the medical facilities within the state. He said previously there was no reporting mechanism for the clinics, so getting a handle on how many are across the state will also provide an opportunity to shut down more pill mills.
He also said the OBN is working with the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy to contact every manufacturer and distributor of opioids working within the state to inform them of the new law and how they will need to comply.
Also, presenting to commission members was Walmart’s Regional Health and Wellness Director Lisa Smith, who was invited to share the company’s policies and procedures aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic.
“Walmart recognizes the impact the opioid epidemic has had across the country and has taken proactive measures to ensure we are part of the solution,” Smith said. “Much like the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse, Walmart’s Opioid Stewardship Initiative continues looking at policies and procedures we can implement to combat the epidemic, while ensuring the highest quality care for those we are serving.”
Read more about Walmart’s Opioid Stewardship Initiative, here: https://bit.ly/2IYOjZD.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Hunter joined Walmart representatives to receive a hands-on demonstration of Dispose Rx, one of the company’s initiatives that responsibly disposes of leftover medications.
“We appreciate good corporate citizens like Walmart for serving as an example of how private businesses can play a major role in ending this epidemic,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Implementing these changes in all of its 4,700 pharmacies nationwide is an immense undertaking and I appreciate the company’s continued efforts.”
Members of the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse pose for a picture at the State Capitol on Thursday after the meeting.
Walmart’s Regional Health and Wellness Director Lisa Smith discusses the company's Opioid Stewardship Initiative with members of the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse.