RALEIGH — A bipartisan group of lawmakers filed a bill Thursday designed to tackle N.C.’s widespread opioid abuse crisis.
The Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention Act, or STOP Act, puts new reporting requirements and stricter controls on the distribution of opioid medications, usually prescribed for pain. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but they are frequently misused.
Reps. Greg Murphy (R-Pitt), Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), Chris Malone (R-Wake) and Craig Horn (R-Union) sponsored the bill in the House saying that it is overdue and takes needed action toward a long road to recovery for the state’s opioid addiction.
The companion bill, S.B. 175, in the Senate is sponsored by Sens. Bill Rabon (R-Bladen), Tom McInnis (R-Anson), and Jim Davis (R-Cherokee).
Attorney General Josh Stein joined the members for a press conference at the N.C. General Assembly on Thursday to present the bill to the public.
“I am here today to say enough is enough and it’s time to turn the tables on this scourge,” said Murphy, who is also a physician.
Among other items, the measure allows physicians to issue standing orders, or prescriptions, to health centers and other groups for naloxone hydrochloride, which is approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of a drug overdose. It also required that supervising physicians consult with physician assistants who prescribe opioids, and it limits the number of pills that can be initially prescribed for pain.
The bill also expands the use of the state’s Controlled Substance Reporting System (CSRS). If passed the law would now require veterinarians to report opioid prescriptions, the penalties for improper reporting would increase, and practitioners would be required to pay a fee toward the CSRS system fund. Additionally, the bill requests increased funds for community-based recovery programs.
For Sen. Tom McInnis (R-Anson) it’s a personal quest to get this bill passed. He will shepherd it through the Senate if it passes the House and indicated that there is support for it. “I come with a different perspective than everyone who has spoken here this morning,” said McInnis. “This epidemic has personally affected my family. We lost a beautiful, vibrant, absolutely wonderful son to this epidemic.”
The measure will be filed on Thursday. The lawmakers said that they know that the road to recovery will be long in the battle with widespread opioid addiction.
“This is not the end game, but a first step,” said Horn.