In an unprecedented overreach by Alaska’s Division of Professional Licensing (DPL), medical suppliers in Alaska and the lower 48 have been told not to sell anything that is restricted by the prescription (Rx) legend to Naturopathic Doctors in Alaska. This includes such things as injectable vitamins and many restricted herbs that are the mainstay of Naturopathic Medicine. This would make Alaska by far the most limited state of any of the licensed states in the US.
Here is the background story.
Naturopathic Doctors were first licensed in Alaska in 1986. At that time there were four doctors in the state that had licenses in other states since Alaska was an unlicensed state. Legal action against one of our providers led to an overwhelming response from consumers like yourself and our law, while not perfect, has allowed our profession to establish itself in several communities in Alaska.
By statute, we cannot “give, prescribe, or recommend in the practice:
1. a prescription drug or
2. a controlled substance.” Controlled substances are prescription drugs such as opiates that are likely to be abused.
The DPL, who oversees our profession in Alaska, adopted regulations in 1994 that “prescription drugs” does not include a “device or herbal or homeopathic remedy or dietetic substances in a form that is not a controlled substance” with further clarification that “herbal remedies” include the extract of a plant, tree, root, moss, fungus or other natural substance.
The statute and DPL adopted regulations are clear. Why the DPL is now ignoring their own regulations is not.
House Bill 266 and Senate Bill 175 (HB266 & SB175) would fix this problem so that as Naturopathic Doctors we can continue to serve our communities as we have for the past 18 years. It is not an expansion of our scope of practice. It merely enshrines the status quo. This bill takes one sentence from our regulations (medicines derived from or a concentrate or extract of a plant, tree, root, moss, fungus or other natural substance) and places it into our licensing law so that thousands of Naturopathic families can continue to receive the same level of care they have come to expect from our providers.
We are grateful to our sponsors, Cathy Munoz in the House and Lesil McGuire in the Senate. We expect push back from a small but well organized group of conventional providers who have done this in the past as a kind of deep tendon reflex (aka knee-jerk reaction). We need legislators to hear from you that naturopathic medicine is your choice of health care. In these precarious times, tying the hands of your primary care providers creates an unnecessary barrier to appropriate care.
We have 90 days to accomplish our goal here. Please contact your legislators (all politics is local) as well as our sponsors and any other legislators needed to get HB266 and SB175 passed. If you would be good enough to share your correspondence with me at email@example.com , along with any response you get, I would be grateful.
HOW TO CONTACT LEGISLATORS
POMs (public opinion messages): If you go to www.alaska.gov, you will see an icon on the right hand corner that says “the Alaska Legislature” which goes to their home page. On the bottom of that page under “Quick Links” is a link to “public opinion messages” that will allow you to send a 50 word message to all or some of the legislators.
Direct emails: You will find the link to particular legislators by opening up the tab marked “senate” or “house” along the top of this page. That will bring you to the links for all the individual legislators. If you link to “Senator Joe Blow”, it will go to the website that has the email address for that person.
Snail mail: When people take the time to write a letter, address the envelope, affix the postage and send it to them it gets the legislators attention. I would be happy to supply “talking points” to anyone who contacts me.
Direct testimony: Our bill has been assigned to only one committee in the House and Senate-Labor and Commerce. Individuals can weigh in during these committee meetings by going to their local Legislative Information Office (LIO) to testify. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee that a bill will be heard when it scheduled since there are a number of bills that make their way through the process. They decide the order in which they will consider the bills before them and sometimes, we just run out of time.
House Labor and Commerce:
Kurt Olson-Chair (Soldotna)
Craig Johnson-Vice Chair (Anchorage)
Steve Thompson (Fairbanks and co-sponsor of HB266)
Paul Seaton (Homer)
Dan Saddler (Eagle River)
Lindsey Holmes (Anchorage)
Bob Miller (Fairbanks)
Senate Labor and Commerce
Dennis Egan-Chair (Juneau)
Joe Paskvan-Vice Chair (Fairbanks)
Bettye Davis (Anchorage)
Cathy Giessel (Anchorage)
Linda Menard (Wasilla)
You can track bills by signing up for email alerts (home page of the legislature, under media center). This way you can follow the bill as it goes through the process.
On the legislative home page, you can put HB266 or SB175 in the search engine and that will bring to status of the bill up for you.
You can live stream committee proceedings by going to AlaskaLegislature.tv. They make this available to anyone who does not live near a LIO or has problems getting to an LIO, but I have been able to watch from my lap top in my office in Fairbanks by asking the tech guy nicely.
Thank-you in advance for your continuing support of naturopathic medicine.