@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Opioid abuse prevention bill clears House

Posted April 10
Updated April 11

Close to half a million people died from an opioid overdose between 2009 and 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Deseret Photo)

— A proposal to reduce opioid misuse in North Carolina was on its way to the state Senate Monday night after winning unanimous approval in the House, 114-0.

House Bill 243, dubbed the "STOP" act by its sponsors, would take several steps aimed at decreasing the number of opioid pills in circulation in the state and would widen the organizations that can possess Narcan, an opioid antagonist, to include community health centers.

According to sponsor Rep. Greg Murphy, R-Pitt, a practicing surgeon, more than 700 million opioid pills were prescribed in North Carolina last year.

The measure would limit initial prescriptions of the powerful painkillers to no more than five days of medication for patients with acute pain and seven days for those recovering from surgery. Murphy says changes were made to the measure to ensure that it won't limit patients under chronic pain management programs or those with cancer or on palliative care.

It also includes more reporting by doctors and other health care providers who prescribe the pills and increased requirements for pharmacists to report every opioid prescription they fill to a database that tracks how many such prescriptions a patient receives, even from doctors in other states. Only electronic prescriptions for opioids will be accepted – no more paper – and veterinarians will also have to report any such drugs they dispense to clients for their pets.

The bill also directs hospice groups to help teach families of patients how to safely dispose of excess pills after the patient passes away.

The proposal has bipartisan sponsorship in both the House and the Senate, along with the backing of Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein.

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