Oregon Gives Psychologists Power to Drug

Psychologists in the state of Oregon may soon be licensed to prescribe powerful, often damaging, psychiatric drugs.

According to an article, Psychologists Win Prescribing Rights, on the recent Senate vote.

Senate Bill 1046 passed the House today on a 38-9 vote and the Senate (Feb. 22) on a 18-11 vote. The bill sets up training and certification requirements for prescribing psychologists. While the bill marks the culmination of a longstanding debate at the state capitol, this issue is by no means resolved.

The Oregon law will be even looser than that for the other two states that allow psychologists to prescribe these pills.

Patient safety could be at risk, said John McCulley, lobbyist for the Oregon Psychiatric Association. In just two other states that grant similar privileges, New Mexico and Louisiana, a medical doctor must directly supervise a prescribing psychologist for at least two years after receiving a license, McCulley said. The Oregon bill, in contrast, requires “collaboration” with a healthcare provider.

Hopefully this isn’t the start of an unfortunate trend among state legislatures. The long term consequences of any such national trend could be devestating for people undergoing mental health treatment. We know very well from the statistics that these psychiatric drugs can have a ruinous effect on people’s overall physical health.

A national group, Psychologists Opposed to Prescription Privileges for Psychologists, also opposed the bill because it “allowed psychologists to prescribe medication with less than half of the medical training required of all other prescribing professionals.”

The reasoning behind this legislation has to do with providing for rural areas that lack basic mental health services. I feel certain that if the Oregon state legislators had looked, they could have found a better way to treat their rural residents than by allowing less than qualified professionals to deal with their psychiatric needs.

10 Responses

  1. What a ridiculous idea. I’m already astonished at the lack of knowledge about pharmaceuticals among “basic”M.D.’s (in the Netherlands, doctors who have completed med school but not yet trained in a specialty). These people can prescribe incollaboration with a specialist, and even then I’ve had some stupid prescriptions. I would never trust a psychologist to prescribe drugs.

    • I would prevent psychiatrists from prescribing psychiatric drugs if I could, but I think I will have to work my way up by starting with psychologists.

  2. I know zip about Oregon but I’m sure you know Ron Unger and about http://www.mindfreedom.org/as/act/us/or/lane/eugene/choice-resolution/eugene-mental-health-resolution-4989.pdf.

    We’d need to know what the real motive is behind allowing psychologists to prescribe. Is it a backlash against or is it to support the resolution adopted in Eugene last year?

    Here in Australia where the psychiatric system is draconian, psychologists are way less likely to support the medical model of mental illness and would hence be more likely to be an ally on the side of decency. That could change of course if they were all carted off to re-education camp and then given prescribing rights.

    • The Oregon House and Senate votes had nothing to do with the resolution in Eugene. Ron Unger has managed to help accomplish some terrific things in Eugene, and the resolution there is one of them. I applaud wholeheartedly what Ron and his colleagues are doing in that city, and I hope he is able to keep doing so into the distant future.

      I’ve heard the reason for training psychologists is because there aren’t enough psychiatrists in rural areas. I have my doubts that this is all there is to it. The Oregon Psychiatric Association and Oregon Medical Association are against it, but the Oregon Psychological Association, as you’d imagine, is for it. My feeling is that the less people we have dispensing these harmful drugs, the better.

      • My angle was tentatively optimistic. I was thinking that psychologists are less likely to be bastards (Do you remember my bastard theory?) than psychiatrists who have already shown themselves to be failed physicians and oblivious to scientific methodology.

        I was thinking that whilst allowing psychologists to prescribe psych meds would increase the numbers of people who are able to prescribe meds that it might decrease the total number of prescriptions.

        But if the intention is just to suborn psychologists into becoming agents of the state for reasons of expediancy we can expect prescriptions to rise. If it becomes law we can then expect that social workers and nurses will at some time in the near future be able to prescribe and ensure the administration of chemical restraints by way of state sanctioned force..

      • Mindfree you are right in doubting the claim that giving psychologists prescription rights will improve mental health treatment in rural areas. The argument is bogus.

        In two states where psychologists have this privilege, virtually none of them are working in rural areas. They go where the money is, in the larger cities, like everyone else. A survey in Illinois found that the argument is hollow because there were virtually no psychologists practicing in the rural areas.

        This is about making a ton of money for the American Psychological Association, its corporate associates and the members. There is gold in the drug industry. Data from two states showed that of all the medical specialists getting freebies from the drug companies, the specialty that got the MOST was … psychiatry! And drug companies pay for a substantial of the costs of psychiatry’s annual convention . They also purchase multi-page color ads in the medical journals and they have “consulting contracts” with many practitioners.

        About half of all new psychologists are trained in private (usually for-profit) training schools. The NY Times recently showed that drug companies are paying many of the costs in medical training programs, which are typically not the stand-alone private schools that psychology has. Psychology’s private schools would LOVE to get that extra income, and they want more psychologists taking their RxP training classes. One of them charges $13,000 for the program. There is also considerable “interaction” between those private schools and APA. The president of APA’s division devoted to its RxP campaign just happens to be the dean of the California School of Professional Psychology, one of the big dogs in the private psychology school industry.

        It’s all about money … sadly. And as a result, they are selling psychology down the river.

  3. The Oregon action is a part of a 15-year, multi-million-dollar campaign orchestrated by the American Psychological Association to incorporate medicine into psychology and thus increase the wealth and political power of the organization, its corporate associates, and individual members.

    APA sends millions of dollars to state organizations to fund lobbying and flies in people to promote the campaign and testify before committees, bragging they are the “SWAT Teams”. A member of the Oregon Task Force for recommending training was the San Francisco-based dean of the California School of Professional Psychology, a major vendor of the online prescription-privileges training (program cost: $13,000). He is also president of the division of APA devoted to this political campaign. He obtained a temporary Oregon license from the psychology board – which appointed him to the task force – after he got the appointment so as to technically qualify for the public job. The obvious conflict of interest may become the target of an investigation, as there are laws against such things.

    The APA’s economic interests become clear when one notes that this organization does not lift a finger to encourage collaboration between psychologists educated in medications but who are not qualified to manage all the possible ramifications of medicating an individual. The training APA recommends is less than half of what other non-physician prescribers receive, and those medical professionals typically get this training through direct service within the medical system. The APA model allows online training for psychologists with no other biomedical education.

    There is no real evidence that adding this privilege with inadequate training is necessary beyond the better alternatives, that it is safe, or that it is effective in adding to the mental health treatment of the population. As a clinical psychologist with 15 years’ experience in private practice, I have never had trouble collaborating with the physicians of my patients. They take my calls, return them quickly, and give me their cell phone numbers to consult about how best to help them, and they listen to my suggestions thoughtfully. However, it is important that the physicians who have been treating my patients, sometimes for years, make the call as to whether this medication is safe, since they are the ones who not only prescribe other medications, but have been doing physical exams, can admit them to the hospital, and have been managing their other referrals to medical specialists.

    The bottom line is that this is about power and money, and APA is spending a lot to get it, when there are far better alternatives for the health and safety of those who need medication.

    • I need to correct my posting to add that the APA RxP campaign does not lift a finger to encourage collaboration between psychologists and prescribers, not between psychologists.

      I should drink all my coffee before posting!

      • Thank you for enlightening us on this subject, CGOpsych.

        I’ve seen the way private companies aiming to privatize state hospitals have been contributing to political campaigns lately. I imagine the same sort of thing is going on when it comes to increasing the power of psychologists. What politician, after all, is going to ignore a major benefactor? When representatives offer their services to the highest bidder, this just makes it all that tougher on the rest of us who don’t have so much to gain from this sort of corruption of the political process.

  4. Mindfreedom:

    The associate editor of the Oregonian just posted a column online calling for the governor to veto this bill.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/susan_nielsen/index.ssf/2010/02/drugs_and_oregon_lawmakers_wri.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: