Oklahoma State Rep. Ryan Martinez has advanced a measure to allow optometric physicians to dispense ophthalmic medications in their clinics.
House Bill 3862 passed the House Business and Commerce Committee by a vote of 17-0.
The bill removes language in Oklahoma statute that reads “The practice of optometry shall not include the dispensing of drugs ….” The statutory prohibition on dispensing of drugs is unique to optometry in Oklahoma; no other recognized medical professionals – including veterinarians and chiropractors – are governed by similar language.
Martinez said removing that language would:
- Increase access to important ophthalmic medications for optometry patients and support more convenient delivery of care;
- Increase patient safety; and
- Level the playing field between optometrists and their peers in the medical profession.
“If you are suffering from a vision condition, it benefits everyone for you to get that condition treated quickly with as few stops around town as possible,” Martinez said. “We don’t want people with blurred vision driving from the optometrist to a second location when they could just get that product quickly and easily right at the optometry clinic. That’s just commonsense. This is especially important for the very elderly, for whom additional travel can be a real hardship.”
Under HB 3862, optometric physicians would be able to dispense drugs such as specialty eye drops that treat infections, blurry vision and glaucoma.
The ability to purchase these drugs at the time of an evaluation could increase convenience for patients and help to treat urgent conditions in a timelier manner. It could also increase patient safety by allowing a patient with impaired vision to get immediate treatment as opposed to driving to another location to fill a prescription. This is especially important in rural areas and towns that may not have a pharmacy or may have a pharmacy without the necessary medications in-stock.