State Politics

NC House votes to limit pain pills to address opioid epidemic

Rep. Greg Murphy
Rep. Greg Murphy

The N.C. House voted unanimously Monday night to add new regulations for pain pill prescriptions as well as take other steps to fight the opioid epidemic.

House Bill 243, the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention, or STOP, Act would limit doctors to prescribing no more than a five-day supply of opioids such as Percocet during an initial visit to treat a patient’s pain issue, such as a broken bone. Doctors could prescribe a bigger supply during follow-up visits, and the limit wouldn’t apply to cancer patients and others being treated for chronic pain.

Medical providers would also be required to submit prescriptions for controlled substances electronically and participate in North Carolina’s existing reporting system that aims to prevent “doctor shopping.”

The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep. Greg Murphy, a Republican and doctor from Greenville. He said the bill is needed because four people in North Carolina die from opioid overdoses each day.

“We have to reverse the trend,” he said, arguing that the bill will “work from the beginning to the end to halt this crisis.”

The bill would also help community health centers obtain the drug naloxone, which treats overdoses. “This is what literally brings people back from the dead after an overdose,” Murphy said.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where an identical bill has not yet received a committee hearing.