Government News
N.M. Psychologists Seek To Expand Privileges
Psychiatric News
Volume 40 Number 5 page 7-7

Regulations permitting qualified psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications in New Mexico went into effect on January 7. Since then, advocates have introduced bills to expand the list of drugs that psychologists can prescribe, allowing them to prescribe off-label and possibly to prescribe nonpsychotropic drugs as well, said Paula Johnson, deputy director for state affairs in APA's Department of Government Relations.

Language in the original legislation limits psychologists to prescribing drugs only for FDA-approved indications. The new bills would permit psychologists to prescribe drugs "recognized and customarily used...for the treatment of mental, emotional, behavioral, or cognitive disorders...." Drugs listed as used "sometimes" for mental or emotional disorders in Drug Facts and Comparisons or in the American Hospital Formulary Service would be acceptable.

In addition, the new proposal would permit psychologists to prescribe drugs to manage the side effects of psychotropic drugs. These could cover drugs to treat any condition from high blood pressure and seizures to Parkinson's disease and impotence, according to a report prepared by the Psychiatric Medical Association of New Mexico and the New Mexico Medical Society in opposing the proposed legislation.

"Psychiatrists who prescribe these drugs off-label are medical doctors with years of training and experience in recognizing and treating complex body chemistry actions and reactions," said the report.

The physicians also expressed dismay about the timing of the new bill. New Mexico's prescribing law requires a two-year supervised prescribing program for psychologists who want prescription privileges. Their advocates now are pushing for expanded rights even before any psychologist has completed this initial program.

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