Psychologists Prescribing Rights Headed for Work Group

A bill to give psychologists the right to prescribe prescription drugs requires a work group to iron out differences

June 17, 2009 --Psychologists took a step forward in their ability to prescribe drugs on Monday (June 15) when the House agreed to set up a work group to iron out differences with the psychiatric community (House Bill 2702).

“We welcome working in good faith,” said Lara Smith, who lobbies for the Oregon Psychological Association. “Inevitably psychologists will have prescribing authority.” 

When legislators hold their special session next February, they’ll hear a proposal on how psychologists should be trained and supervised. A work group comprised of three psychologists, three physicians and a pharmacist will meet with a facilitator to resolve their differences.
Psychologists met in an informal work group during the interim following the 2007 legislature, but negotiations generally stalled.
All the training requirements have been removed from the amended version of the bill this session. The original legislation offered far too little training, according to John McCulley, lobbyist for the Oregon Psychiatric Association. “There needs to be more strenuous requirements, more supervision and oversight. If that’s adequate, we have no objections.”
Not all consumers are pleased this legislation has moved forward, particularly Karen Cormac-Jones who calls herself a concerned mother and Oregonian. “Will the safety of Oregonians be bought and paid for by special interest groups or large pharmaceutical companies? Is the push for this legislation being made by thousands of Oregonians desperate for psychiatric medications?” she asked. “Or is it because managed care today is less likely to reimburse therapy and more likely to pay for prescription drugs.” 

Only two other states – New Mexico and Louisiana -- allow psychologists to prescribe.

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