Governor Mary Fallin has signed into law measures to combat prescription drug abuse in Oklahoma. House Bill 1783, by Rep. Todd Russ and Sen. A.J. Griffin, prohibits a written or oral prescription containing the painkiller hydrocodone from being refilled. Previously, there were no limitations on prescription refills. House Bill 1782, also by Russ and Griffin, permits emergency responders to administer lifesaving medication to counteract a prescription drug overdose.

Earlier in the legislative session, the governor signed into law HB 1781, which allows the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) to access key, non-identifiable information regarding prescription drug use from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs for research purposes, to identify areas where drugs are being overprescribed and abused in order to aid in the prevention of prescription drug abuse.

“These reform measures will help combat the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in Oklahoma,” Fallin said. “More than 81 percent of drug-related deaths in Oklahoma are caused by prescription drugs. That figure is unacceptable, and these reforms will tackle this problem head on and help save lives in the process. My thanks go out to the Oklahoma Legislature for working with me to address this important issue, and to ODMHSAS Commissioner Terri White for her dedication to fighting substance abuse in Oklahoma.”

In her State of the State speech, the governor highlighted the need to deal with the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in Oklahoma. One survey indicates 8 percent of Oklahomans – more than twice the national average – are abusing prescription drugs. The FY2014 budget agreement includes $17.4 million in additional funds to support ODMHSAS operations, including prescription drug prevention and treatment initiatives.

“As a state, we are committed to providing the resources to prevent drug abuse from occurring in the first place,” Fallin said. “That’s why this year’s budget includes a significant increase in resources for prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment initiatives. These programs will help Oklahomans get healthier and improve the already great quality of life in our state.”

White thanked the governor and the Legislature for supporting the agency’s efforts to prevent prescription drug abuse.

“This is a chance to get out in front of an issue that has each year claimed an increasing number of lives,” White said. “Strong, preventative actions such as this just make sense, and will make a difference in Oklahoma’s efforts to reduce the negative consequences of addiction. The governor’s support for substance abuse prevention and treatment initiatives has been vital, underscores that the state has set this as a priority now and in the future, and is an example to be followed by others nationally.”