Bill seeks to expand optometrists' drugs

Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2002

JUNEAU - The Alaska House approved a measure Friday that would let optometrists prescribe more types of medication than currently permitted.

Rep. Lisa Murkowski, an Anchorage Republican, said the bill attempts to address concerns Gov. Tony Knowles raised two years ago when he vetoed a similar bill.

Murkowski said the measure should help patients in rural Alaska, who don't have easy access to an ophthalmologist. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in treating eye diseases and can prescribe medication and perform surgery.

Currently optometrists in Alaska are limited to prescribing medications that are applied to the eye. Alaska is one of only 12 states with such a limit, Murkowski said. House Bill 215 would allow them to prescribe other pharmaceuticals, but it would not let them inject pharmaceuticals into the eye. And it would require optometrists prescribing drugs to meet additional educational requirements.

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