Ceremonial Bill Signing with Gov. McMaster

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

Seth Stokes
June 04, 2018 - 2:30 pm

Governor Henry McMaster was joined today by the co-chairmen 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 for a ceremonial bill signing for nine bills aimed at combating the opioid epidemic in South Carolina.

"We’re making great progress, but this is only the beginning – certainly not the end," said Gov. Henry McMaster. "This epidemic and the response to it, I believe, are unique. It is a health crisis, but also a law enforcement crisis. It’s unique in that part of this was created by very well-meaning intentions, which we have now corrected, but the most encouraging and comforting part of the whole thing is the response. I don’t know of another challenge that our state has faced that has been met with the entire panoply of talent, understanding, professionalism, and organization of our state. This is a perfect example of what we can do when everybody comes together."

"I want to thank everybody that has been a part of this group conversation because it has taken everybody in this field to come together, and give and take a little bit, and give their input as to how we can solve this problem," said Representative Phyllis Henderson.

"This was a huge team effort – we had stakeholders, legislators, the Senate, and the governor with all hands on deck dealing with this problem throughout South Carolina," said Representative Russell Fry. "What started a year and a half ago has turned into, at this point, fifteen policy proposals that the governor has signed into law."

In December of 2017, Governor McMaster declared a public health emergency throughout the state for the opioid epidemic and created the state Opioid Emergency Response Team, which has been tasked with utilizing South Carolina’s emergency management infrastructure developing a statewide plan for addressing the crisis.

The bills Governor McMaster signed today include the following:

H.3819: Prescriptions to minors

Requires that doctors speak with minors in educating them and their families on opioids before prescribing said opioids and to assess whether the minor may have a mental health or substance use disorder issue. It also requires a consent form known as “Start Talking” to be signed by a minor’s parent/guardian after the doctor discusses the opioids that are being prescribed.

H.3822: Controlled substance schedules

DHEC must report any changes made to the schedules listing controlled substances and the addition, deletion, or rescheduling of a substance to the Code Commissioner.

H.3826: Prescriptions

Requires DHEC to develop the form and content for a counterfeit-resistant prescription blank, which must be used by practitioners for the purpose of prescribing a controlled substance. This bill is aimed at combating prescription fraud.

H.4117: Confidentiality exceptions

Allows DHEC to release data from the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) to a drug court official seeking information related to a specific case involving a designated person.

H.4487: Controlled substances, scheduling

Clarifies that DHEC can continue to amend the list of controlled substances to conform to scheduling changes by the DEA, but must forward copies of the change to the Chairmen of the Medical Affairs Committee and the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, the Chairman of the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee, and the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, and to the Clerks of the Senate and House, and the Code Commissioner, and shall post the schedules on the department's website indicating the change and specifying the effective date of the change.

H.4488: Confidentiality exceptions

Authorizes DHEC to provide data in the Prescription Monitoring Program to a coroner, deputy coroner, medical examiner, or deputy medical examiner who is involved in a specific inquiry into the cause and manner of death of a designated person.

H.4600: Opioid antidote, prescriptions to community organizations

This bill adds a section to the South Carolina Opioid Prevention Act (Chapter 130, Title 44). This section states that a prescriber may directly or by standing order prescribe an opioid antidote (such as Naloxone) to a community distributor for the purpose of distributing the antidote to caregivers of people who are at risk of overdosing and to people who know that they have the potential to overdose.

H.4601: Addiction counselors

Requires anyone representing himself as an addiction counselor to be licensed by LLR and establishes requirements for licensure. There are approximately 400 addiction counselors that will be getting licensed in the state. This bill will help ensure that people who are receiving care for opioid addictions, are receiving that care from qualified addiction counselors.

S.918: Opioid prescriptions, limits, prescription report cards

The bill 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 tasks DHEC to develop and maintain as part of the prescription monitoring program, a system to provide prescription report cards to practitioners to inform the practitioner about certain prescribing trends.

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