The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 25, 2013

State's prescription drug abuse prevention plan is the right move


Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The state of Oklahoma is on board with a plan meant to curb the abuse of prescription medicines.

Gov. Mary Fallin and state health officials announced the plan last week at a Capitol press conference. Officials set a five-year deadline to adopt policies to curb the deadly practice of abusing prescription drugs.

According to data presented by health officials, more people die each year from overdosing on hydrocodone than from methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine combined. With that in mind, “A State Plan: Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse in Oklahoma” outlines what is to be done, including community and public education; provider and prescriber education; disposal and storage; tracking and monitoring; regulations and enforcement; as well as treatment and prevention.

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is asked to double the number of drop boxes for unused or unwanted prescriptions by 2017, and also have one in at least every county by next year.

Legislators also should consider limiting the number of hydrocodone refills, the plan asks. Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police will be responsible for helping propose a law to provide immunity to some people who call for help when another person has overdosed.

Also at last week’s press conference were Craig and Gail Box, of Enid, who lost their son Austin to a prescription drug overdose in 2010.

The Box family set up the nonprofit Austin Box “12” Foundation to assist student athletes with scholarship opportunities and promote awareness of the dangers of prescription drugs.

Austin’s sister, Whitney, said the family supports the state’s new initiative, saying: “Everything and anything our state is doing is commendable.”

We agree.

Whatever can be done to prevent more tragedies needs to be done.