Call-to-Action Results in Amendment to PDMP Bill, SB339

by Billy Tarpley on March 14, 2017

Tuesday, March 14:

Many thanks to the ASDA members who contacted their state Senators to encourage an amendment to SB339, which imposes new mandatory provisions aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse in Arkansas. A emotion-charged meeting this morning with Governor Asa Hutchinson, bill sponsor Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson and two prominent Arkansas businessmen who had lost children due to prescription drug abuse resulted in a proposed amendment that has been agreed to by all parties, including the Arkansas Chiefs of Police, ASDA and the Arkansas Medical Society (AMS).

Although the final amendment does not completely reflect the wishes of ASDA or AMS, it does represent a compromise that includes an avenue for relief through promulgation of a rule by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) if the law proves to be “unnecessarily burdensome or has created a hardship.” The law will in fact require all prescribers to check the PDMP website on each occasion of prescribing a Schedule II drug. If prescribers determine that this requirement creates an undue hardship, they can appeal to the ADH to promulgate a rule that would ultimately be presented to the Arkansas Legislative Council for review. If the council approves the rule by a super majority (3/4 vote), the change will be approved.

Other elements of the amendment require that a representative from the Arkansas Dental Board be added to the PDMP Advisory Board of Directors, and that each licensing board be encouraged to promulgate rules that establish prescribing limits.

ASDA consulted Dr. Hal Crossley, the keynote speaker for the upcoming 2017 ASDA Annual Session, about the matter. Dr. Crossley confirmed that most states have a similar mandatory requirement for prescribing. As a result many dentists and physicians, he said, have ceased to prescribe Schedule II drugs for pain control, and now utilize a combination of NSAIDS and acetaminophens which have been shown to achieve high levels of pain control results.

The amendment mentioned above has been adopted by the Senate, and the final bill will be heard on the Senate floor on Wednesday, March 15. We appreciate Sen. Hutchinson for hearing our concerns and working to find a compromise.

Again, THANK YOU to all dentists who contacted their state Senators. Your voice was heard, and a compromise was achieved!

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