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New laws take aim at opioid abuse

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S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has signed into law nine bills addressing opioid abuse in the state.

The legislation deals with opioid prescriptions, controlled substance schedules and counseling requirements. It also allows prescribers to make an opioid antidote such as naloxone available for distribution to caregivers of those at risk of overdosing and to people at risk of overdosing.

“We’re making great progress, but this is only the beginning,” McMaster said in a statement. “This epidemic and the response to it, I believe, are unique. It is a health crisis but also a law enforcement crisis.”

McMaster was joined at the signing by the co-chairs of the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee, Rep. Phyllis Henderson and Rep. Russell Fry; cabinet agency officials; addiction treatment professionals; and other members of the General Assembly.

Last December, McMaster declared a state public health emergency and created the state Opioid Emergency Response Team, responsible for developing a statewide plan to address the crisis.

Department of Health and Environmental Control statistics report 550 people died from prescription opioid overdoses in 2016 in South Carolina, a 7% increase from 2015 and up 18% from 2014.

The bills are as follows:

H.3819: Requires that doctors speak with minors and their families about opioids before prescribing them and to assess whether a minor may have a mental health or substance use issue. It also requires a consent form to be signed by a minor’s parent or guardian.

H.3822: DHEC must report changes made to the schedules listing controlled substances and the addition, deletion or rescheduling of a substance to the state code commissioner.

H.3826: Requires DHEC to develop a counterfeit-resistant prescription form, which must be used when prescribing a controlled substance.

H.4117: Allows DHEC to release data from the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) to a drug court official seeking information related to a specific case.

H.4487: Clarifies that DHEC can amend the list of controlled substances to conform to scheduling changes by the DEA but must forward copies of changes to the chair of the Medical Affairs Committee and the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, the chair of the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee, and the chair of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, to the clerks of the Senate and House, and to the code commissioner. DHEC must also post changes on its website.

H.4488: Authorizes DHEC to provide data in the Prescription Monitoring Program to a coroner, deputy coroner, medical examiner or deputy medical examiner involved in a specific inquiry.

H.4600: Adds a section to the South Carolina Opioid Prevention Act stating that a prescriber may directly or by standing order prescribe an opioid antidote to a community distributor to give to caregivers of people who are at risk of overdosing and to people at risk of overdosing.

H.4601: Requires addiction counselors to be licensed and establishes requirements for licensure.

S.918: Establishes a seven-day limit on the initial prescription of opioids for acute pain management or post-operative pain management except when clinically indicated for cancer pain, chronic pain, hospice care, palliative care, major trauma, major surgery, treatment of sickle cell disease, treatment of neonatal abstinence syndrome, or medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder. The bill also requires DHEC to develop and maintain a system of report cards to practitioners with information about prescription trends.

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June 13, 2018

Where does it say anything about being forced to submit drug screens? It covers chronic conditions that require long term use of opioids. How are you being treated like an addict with these bills?

June 07, 2018

What about the people that need these drugs to live a half decent life?????? I have to take these and they allow me to live a somewhat normal life. But I am being treated like I am a drug addict! I agree and understand the need for control but I disagree with being forced by these people in power to submit to drug tests and other invasive options that are being pushed upon us. I would never wish anyone to be addicted to drugs but everyone must admit there is a need for pain medication and people who need it should also be protected from people that are only in it for the news reels.