OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Pharmacy Board unanimously approved new rules Wednesday that would regulate how Oklahomans receive mail-order medications. The rules would require medicines be shipped in temperature-controlled packages.
The landmark decision was one that many other states across the country watched closely. Texas’ Pharmacy Board will meet to discuss similar issues Thursday. With the decision, Oklahoma became the first state to issue these rules which would safeguard patients by making sure those prescriptions arrived safe and effective.
The subject is one that Loretta Boesing has been passionate about because it affects her son.
“I do the best I can to protect his life,” said Boesing, a mom and advocate.
Her son received a liver transplant when he was two years old. She said she was recently forced to start receiving his anti-rejection medications through mail-order pharmacies. More than once the drugs arrived warped and damaged due to extreme heat conditions during shipping.
“It’s actually a room temperature medication, which is often ignored by mail-order pharmacies,” said Boesing. “Not only could it lose potency, but medications can also break down and become toxic.”
Boesing made the seven-hour drive from Missouri to be at Wednesday’s state pharmacy board meeting and said she was pleased with the unanimous decision to adopt the new rules.
“These rules were to safeguard our patients here and residents of Oklahoma to make sure that the medications that they get through the mail or through the delivery is safe and adequate for them,” said Dr. Marty Hendrick, executive director of the state pharmacy board.
The decision to add the rules came after a task force studied the conditions of shipped medications. Jackson Beach is a pharmacy student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. He was part of a group from the college who put together a viability study. The logged boxes they shipped with temperature gages inside.
The group used temperature loggers that would log temperatures every five minutes.
“We would ship them through priority mail and start logging the temperatures from drop off to pick up,” said Beach.
He said the packages were not sitting at someone’s front porch. They had tracking numbers and would pick the packages up directly so there would be no wait. What the study found was more than 80 percent of the packages reached extreme temperatures.
The new rules did receive some pushback from mail carriers and mail-order pharmacies during Wednesday’s meeting. The main argument was shipping and supply costs, which would be passed onto patients.
“The price is going to go up and there is going to be a cost there,” said one woman representing the United States Postal Service.
The new rules will now go before the Oklahoma legislature. If they approve the rules, then it will go before Governor Kevin Stitt for final approval.