RALEIGH — It’s now much more difficult to get prescription opioids in North Carolina.
The STOP Act, which kicked in Jan. 1, limits the number of pills doctors can give patients. Lawmakers, who cited a hike in opioid-related deaths, passed the bill last year.
Under the law, House Bill 243, doctors may give patients five days of opioids to treat pain associated with injuries. They also may issue one week of prescription painkillers following a surgery. In both cases, doctors are free to issue refills.
“Smarter, safer prescribing is one tool among many that we’re deploying to combat the opioid crisis,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “Setting initial limits on these powerful drugs can help reduce the number of people who become addicted to opioids and it can ultimately save lives.”
North Carolina is home to four of the 25 worst U.S. cities for opioid abuse. Wilmington is first, followed by Hickory, fifth; Jacksonville, 12th; and Fayetteville, 18th. Opioids have killed more than 12,000 North Carolinians since 1999. Thirteen hundred people died in 2017 alone.