NORMAN — State narcotics bureau director Darrell Weaver works with more than 17,000 Oklahoma health care providers who have prescribing authority. His agency’s job is a balancing act, trying to assure Oklahomans they can have access to legal drugs but not overprescribing to feed addictions and resale mills.
The agency and other law enforcement officials work with providers but they’re not afraid of tackling them either. A federal grand jury recently returned a 53-count indictment alleging that an Oklahoma City psychiatrist illegally distributed controlled substances to eight individuals, which resulted in the death of five of them.
That doctor was recently arrested in Germany. Mr. Weaver, who spoke to a Norman civic club this past week, said Oklahoma leads the nation in the per capita use of prescription drugs and is ninth highest in prescription drug overdose deaths.
Indeed, prescription drug abuse is a growing problem nationwide. More people died from prescription overdoses last year than automobile accidents. Drug roundups by state and local law enforcement agencies may help keep them out of teen’s hands but getting a handle on patients who doctor shop is the key.
The state’s pharmacy network, along with a system that allows doctors to see what a patient has had filled, should help law enforcement and the medical community face the problem head-on.