Attorney General Mike Hunter and members of the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse announce the commission's recommendations at a press conference in late January
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today commended members of both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Senate for working to pass all of the remaining legislation requested by the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse and sending the bills to the governor for final approval.
Attorney General Hunter said the legislation is a significant step toward real progress in curbing the state’s opioid epidemic.
“I appreciate the members of the legislature for their decisive action this session on the recommendations by the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The bi-partisan support from both chambers shows the commitment of members to saving lives and putting a stop to the opioid crisis that continues to claim an average of 1,000 Oklahomans every year.
“These bills aim to help those struggling with addiction, give more tools to our law enforcement officials and help prevent the diversion of prescriptions from flooding the market.
“Since last April when my colleagues on the commission and I began meeting, we knew we had to act without delay to stem the daily loss of life attributed to this epidemic. After hours of meetings that brought all stakeholders together, we put forth the very best policy recommendations that would serve as a framework for ending the death and despair this plague has placed on our friends, family members and loved ones.
“I thank the members of the commission for dedicating their time, resources, expertise and also their leadership when crafting these recommendations. I also thank them for their continued work after our meetings, as they turned from policy making to advocating for the legislation.
“A special thanks to Sen. AJ Griffin and Rep. Tim Downing, who helped lead the commission and were instrumental through the legislative process. Additionally, from my office, a special recognition to Chief of Public Policy and Legislative Affairs Lori Carter, for her efforts in steering our meetings, scheduling both local and national experts to speak and working with lawmakers to see these bills through the process.
“Another member of the commission, who was a fixture at the Capitol, ensuring these bills made it through was Bob Howard. Bob’s unwavering support of the commission’s work is admirable and I thank him for his continued dedication.”
Oklahoma State Sen. Griffin said she was honored to work with the commission to achieve the successful outcome.
“The commission’s work will be a turning point that we can point to in the future and say this is where Oklahoma drew the line to curb its opioid epidemic,” Sen. Griffin said. “I believe our work will also serve as a blueprint on a national level that states struggling in a similar way can use to save lives. I appreciate the leadership and passion from Attorney General Hunter, who championed the commission and initiated action to combat the growing problem.”
Oklahoma House Rep. Downing said once implemented, the legislation will save lives and help Oklahomans in need.
“Losing more than 3,000 Oklahomans in the last three years to an overdose death is unacceptable,” Rep. Downing said. “I was honored to serve on this commission and be part of the solution by helping guide the legislation that Oklahoma needs to end the current crisis. I appreciate my fellow commission members and Attorney General Hunter, who all worked together to put our future on a better glide path.”
Commission member and Oklahoma City Businessman Bob Howard said the commission’s work was vital to the future of the state.
“Business leaders must also be community leaders,” Howard said. “Our work through the commission will address many of the factors contributing to this crisis and provide support for those suffering and their families. I appreciate Attorney General Hunter for taking on the state’s opioid epidemic as one of his top priorities.”
Legislation sent to the governor
“E-prescribing is one of the most significant pieces of legislation that will prevent the diversion of prescriptions from flooding the market. Paper prescriptions are too easy to counterfeit and lead to fraudulent prescriptions, which continue fueling the opioid epidemic.” – Attorney General Mike Hunter
- Senate Bill 1367, creates the Good Samaritan Law, which provides immunity from prosecution under certain circumstances, MORE: https://bit.ly/2jmx05D;
“The Good Samaritan Law will help save lives by allowing an individual witnessing an overdose to call proper authorities without fear of prosecution in certain circumstances.” – Attorney General Mike Hunter
- Senate Bill 1446, directs the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision to require continuing medical education for prescribers on opioid abuse and misuse, also restricts initial prescriptions for opioids to a seven day supply, MORE: https://bit.ly/2FBCyls;
“The continuing medical education will help prescribers keep updated with the latest information regarding prescribing opioids and pain management to provide better care for their patients.
“This bill will also help prevent future addicts by limiting the supply of first-time prescriptions of opioids. According to the CDC, opioids can be addictive even if they are only taken for a short period of time.” – Attorney General Mike Hunter
- House Bill 2795, requires medical facility owners to register with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, MORE: https://bit.ly/2FL8oAp;
“In some pill mill cases, we have seen individuals, who aren’t doctors, open a medical facility and encourage oversupplying of opioids to make money. Registering with the OBNDD will provide a necessary check to these individuals who are prioritizing profits over patients.” – Attorney General Mike Hunter
- House Bill 2796, requires manufacturers and distributors of opioids make data available for review by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, MORE: https://bit.ly/2IojcTG;
“This bill will provide oversight and prevent distributors from flooding towns and communities with opioids like we have seen in other states. In West Virginia for example, we saw drug wholesalers ship 20.8 million painkillers to two pharmacies in a town with a population of 3,000 over a seven-year period.” – Attorney General Mike Hunter
“The Overdose Fatality Review Board will allow us to get better, more accurate data on where we need to deploy more resources to help those struggling with addiction and overdoses.” – Attorney General Mike Hunter
Editor’s Note: Senate Bill 1078, which criminalizes the trafficking of fentanyl and its equivalents have already been signed into law. Read Attorney General Hunter’s statement on SB 1078, here: https://bit.ly/2GAjvco.