Oklahoma Spotlight: Tulsa Coalition Advances E–prescribing Bill to Prevent Opioid Abuse

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Members of the CAPSAT task force stand by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin as HB 2931 was signed into law on May 3, 2018.

An e-prescribing bill, which began within the Coalition Against Prescription and Substance Abuse of Tulsa (CAPSAT), has become a law and will take effect on January 1, 2020.

How Did the Coalition Begin?

CAPSAT was created in 2012, beginning with only 2 members. Its membership has since grown to over 53 – consisting of physicians, pharmacists, law enforcement, treatment, secondary and college educators, state and local government, tribes, and interested public. Priorities are prescription drug abuse prevention and prescriber education.

Why Does E–Prescribing Matter for Substance Abuse Prevention?

The abuse and diversion (the transfer of a prescription drug from a lawful to an unlawful channel of distribution or use) of prescription opioid analgesics are serious problems that have major implications for public health. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has estimated that prescription drug diversion is a $25 billion-a-year industry. Prescription forgery is a form of drug diversion, through which persons obtain opioids for non-medical purposes without a valid prescription.  There were 115 forgeries of prescription drugs from 2015-2017 according to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office. According to local law enforcement officers, the paper upon which prescriptions are written was easily obtainable, thus enabling abusers to easily forge prescriptions. Thus, law enforcement and judicial officers saw the need for legislation mandating e-prescribing instead.

How Did You Advance This Idea?

CAPSAT member, Tulsa Police Detective Joe Gho, informed coalition members of this issue and suggested the solution of e-prescribing. Other CAPSAT members (pharmacists, doctors, other law enforcement officers, and social services employees) contacted other interested parties (veterinarians, dentists, local government officials) to discuss possible legislation, resulting in the creation of a task force. Emails were sent to those persons who might be interested in this legislation, and the first task force meeting was held in August 17, 2017.

The task force gave a presentation to the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse in November 2017 to show the ease of creating forged controlled substance prescriptions due to the ability to walk into any paper company and purchase the paper upon which prescriptions are written.  One of the Opioid Commission members was Senator AJ Griffin who became a principal author of the legislation. Glen Mulready (R) introduced the bill in the house on February 5, 2018 (House Bill 2931), mandating electronic prescriptions for controlled substances.

What Was Accomplished?

The bill passed the House on March 6, 2018 and in the Senate on April 25, 2018 (Senate Principal author was AJ Griffin (R) (co-sponsors Rep. Tim Downing (R), Sen. Rob Standridge (R), Sen. Anastasia Pittman (D), Sen. Ervin Yen (R), and was signed into law by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin on May 3, 2018. As of January 1, 2020, prescriptions for controlled substances (such as opioids) must be ordered electronically – precluding the ability to create forgeries by requiring electronic prescriptions for controlled substances.

Key Partners

Detective Joe Gho – the Tulsa Police Department officer who works to prevent drug diversion and first raised this issue – has received the Charles V. Ryan Diversion Influence Award from Oklahoma’s State Chapter of The National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators for his work in pursuing this legislation and reducing the accessibility of opioids.


Contact OK In the Know member Stephanie Tillman (@stillman) at 918-595-4468 with questions and check out the Tulsa Regional Prevention Coordinator Facebook page.

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