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Politicians shouldn't stand in way of sound medical care

Published: September 22, 2013
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Do you want government officials to make your medical decisions, or do you want your doctor to offer you the newest medical treatments based on the best available science? House Bill 1970, passed in 2011 and struck down last year by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, defines some medications as “abortion-inducing drugs” and limits their use strictly to Food and Drug Administration guidelines, usually referred to as “on-label use.”

However, according to the American Medical Association, up to 20 percent of all drugs are prescribed off-label, and up to 75 percent of medications prescribed by pediatricians are for off-label uses. The FDA accepts off-label use of medications when it's based on accepted science and clinical evidence.

Gynecologists have concerns that this law will prohibit the only nonsurgical option for treatment of tubal pregnancy. The law also prohibits use of a new, evidence-based regimen for medical abortion that's safer and more effective than the outdated FDA protocol. Patients will be harmed by the unintended consequences of this bill. Oklahoma law elsewhere recognizes the importance of allowing physicians to prescribe medications off-label, going so far as to prohibit health insurers from excluding coverage of off-label cancer treatments.

Even Oklahomans who oppose abortion should be wary of setting a precedent that allows legislators to make medical decisions. The state Supreme Court has found this law unconstitutional, but the attorney general is appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. We shouldn't use scarce state resources to defend this bill. We shouldn't make it unlawful for physicians to provide the safest medical care to our citizens.

Dana Stone, M.D. Oklahoma City

Stone is an obstetrician/gynecologist.