New opioid bill puts more restrictions on prescriptions, spends more on treatment

New opioid bill puts more restrictions on prescriptions, spends more on treatment
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RALEIGH, NC (AP/WECT) - Supporters of legislation designed to address North Carolina's opioid abuse crisis said more restrictions on prescriptions and more spending on treatment will help reduce the number of families torn apart by addiction.

The proposal unveiled Thursday by Republican lawmakers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein would place more mandates upon medical providers before prescribing anti-pain drugs like OxyContin and morphine.

"I know the medical community is doing a good job in policing themselves, but anything that makes it harder for people trying to get those prescriptions, we're certainly in favor of," Wilmington Assistant District Attorney Timothy Severo said.

Nearly 250 heroin-related deaths were reported in North Carolina in 2014. The measure would set aside $20 million over two years for more community-based addiction treatment and recovery services.

"We cannot prosecute our way out of this problem, so anything that earmarks money for treatment and getting people into treatment has a number of great effects," Severo said. "Obviously, it helps that user, but then it has a trickle-down effect to all the other people that are affected by this problem."

Attorney General Stein said he believes the bill is a good first step toward saving lives.

The legislature passed a law in 2016 that creates a statewide standing order at all pharmacies for access to a prescription drug that can reverse overdoses of heroin, OxyContin and other opium-based drugs.

Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.