Chiropractors Can Still Prescribe Drugs in New Mexico
On February 7, 2017 New Mexico Senate Bill 150 termed the “Advanced Chiropractor Licensure” bill was tabled by the New Mexico Senate Public Affairs Committee, effectively killing the bill, on a 5-3 vote. Senate Bill 150 sought to amend and enact new sections of the Chiropractic Physician Practice Act (Chapter 61-4 NMSA 1978) to provide for certification of two levels of advanced practice chiropractic physicians.
Educational and licensure requirements were provided in the bill. Collaboration would have been required between the New Mexico Medical Board, the Board of Pharmacy and the Chiropractic Board in adopting rules that would provide guidance to a level one certified advanced practice chiropractic physician. SB 150 also sought to expand the definition of “chiropractic” to that of “chiropractic medicine”.
The Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation, International Federation of Chiropractors and Organizations and the International Chiropractors Association all urged chiropractors to contact members of the New Mexico Senate Public Affairs Committee in an effort to stop the bill.
While the temporary tabling of this bill is seen as a victory for the conservative, traditional faction of the chiropractic profession, the reality is that chiropractors in New Mexico can still prescribe drugs and the profession is still tiered in New Mexico with two classes of chiropractors – the ADVANCED chiropractic physicians and regular chiropractors.
That has not changed in any way.
Several years ago, the New Mexico Chiropractic Board, under the leadership of William Doggett DC, then the Chairman of the NMBC, was the first state to allow chiropractors to prescribe drugs. The state was also the first to effectively tier the profession and create two classes of chiropractors: regular chiropractors and those holding themselves out to be "Advanced" because they can prescribe drugs and suggesting to the public that they are better than "regular" chiropractors.
Hundreds of chiropractors have reportedly been certified as "Advanced" in New Mexico and other states are attempting to duplicate what New Mexico did.
Shortly after gaining the right to prescribe drugs, the New Mexico chiropractors attempted to add even more drugs to the formulary but were unsuccesfull in that attempt. This latest effort was an attempt to do this through the introduction of a bill in the New Mexico Legislature.
Senate Bill 150 was intended to amend and enact new sections of the Chiropractic Physician Practice Act (Chapter 61-4 NMSA 1978) to provide for certification of two levels of advanced practice chiropractic physicians. SB 150 expands the definition of “chiropractic” to that of “chiropractic medicine” to include diagnosis and treatment of a condition for which the chiropractic physician has been educated and trained.
Readers may be aware that the Council on Chiropractic Education, which effectively holds a monopoly on the education and licensing of the entire profession through accreditation, requires chiropractic schools to train primary care providers. Adding language to be able to diagnosis and treat anything the student has been trained in is an easy way to expand the scope of practice to that of a medical doctor.
The bill allowed for a level one, or a level two, certified advanced practice chiropractic physician to prescribe, administer, inject and dispense dangerous drugs. SB 150 defines “dangerous “drug” consistent with federal laws of scheduled substances. A “dangerous drug” is defined as a drug, other than a controlled substance enumerated in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, that because of a potentiality for harmful effect or the method of its use or the collateral measures necessary to its use is not safe except under the supervision of a chiropractic physician and hence for which adequate directions for use cannot be prepared.
SB 150 makes clear that the scheduled substances listed in Schedule I and II of the Controlled Substances Act are exempted to the scheduled substances that may be utilized by a chiropractic physician. Prescriptive use of those substances in Schedules III, IV, and V may be utilized by chiropractic physicians as licensed.
The bill would have required that the chiropractic board’s membership include someone who is a level one, or a level two, certified advanced practice chiropractic physician.
For over eight years, the New Mexico Medical Board has not changed their position on this proposed legislation. The Medical Board expressed concerns that the term “chiropractic medicine” is misleading and represents a departure from the well-defined profession of chiropractic. The Medical Board feels the term “chiropractic physician” is a misnomer, and only two professions to which the term “physician” can be correctly applied: allopathic and osteopathic physician (medical or surgical physician.)
The number of hours (90 as proposed in SB 150) for a level one certified advanced practice chiropractic physician is considered inadequate by the Medical Board and they consider it a tremendous leap from the well-established profession of chiropractic to the practice of medicine and the prescription of scheduled drugs.
In the event SB 150 is enacted, it would represent an unprecedented expansion of the scope of practice for chiropractors in New Mexico.