Last month, Deb Butler was sworn in to the North Carolina House of Representatives to fill Susi Hamilton’s seat. As a Democratic newcomer to the General Assembly, Representative Butler has found one issue that drives lawmakers to reach across the aisle: the opioid epidemic.
Butler is sponsoring the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention—or STOP—Act, a bipartisan bill that would allow for wider distribution of the overdose-reversal drug naloxone. But the STOP Act also comes with tighter supervision and stronger oversight for medical practitioners. Doctors would have to prescribe opioids electronically to reduce fraud, and check the Controlled Substance Reporting System database to see if a patient is getting opioids from other providers.
Some doctors say they don’t need additional regulations burdening their medical practice. But Representative Butler says those requirements are just one part of a larger, multifaceted approach:
“Limiting prescriptions is just one component. It actually just requires they revisit the subject more frequently than possibly they would like, and it also limits how much medicine can be given for acute pain down to a five-day window rather than, I think, a ten-day [window], which has kind of been standard. We’ll see how effective it is. I’m a big believer of trying something and benchmarking it and seeing if it works. If it doesn’t work, let’s fix it.”
In Butler’s eyes, the most important aspect of the STOP Act is the ten-million-dollar appropriation in each of the next two fiscal years for community-based treatment and recovery services.
Be sure to listen to our full CoastLine interview with Deb Butler, which airs this Wednesday from noon to one o'clock, and then again on Sunday at 3 o'clock.