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