As the nation struggles to deal with the staggering human and economic costs associated with the crises of opioid addiction and misuse, North Carolina is on the vanguard of the response.
The centerpiece of this effort is the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention Act, more commonly referred to as the STOP Act. Passed unanimously by both houses of the General Assembly on June 28, 2017 and signed into law by Governor Cooper on June 29, 2017, the STOP Act limits first time prescriptions for most opioids to no more than 5 days for acute pain, and 7 days for post-surgical pain. It will require medical providers to check North Carolina’s Controlled Substance Reporting System database (CSRS) to confirm that the patient is not receiving inappropriate medications from other sources, and will require electronic prescriptions for such drugs by 2020. The STOP Act also strengthens the CSRS, including provisions requiring pharmacies to report opioid transactions more quickly, and expands the availability of the opioid antagonist naloxone, in an effort to reduce the harm from opioid overdose. But, recognizing the value of opioids in the correct settings, the STOP Act does not apply to medications administered in an inpatient setting, nor does it prevent follow up prescriptions for longer terms when medically appropriate.
In concert with the STOP Act, other efforts to confront the opioid crisis include the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Prescription Drug Abuse Advisory Committee, and the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s Opioid Task Force, which seeks to recommend rules and guidelines addressing the use of opioids in the context of workers’ compensation claims.
For more information on how North Carolina is addressing the opioid crisis, you may want to review the state’s Opioid Action Plan: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/opioids