Governor Roy Cooper today signed House Bill 243, the STOP Act, into law in a ceremony at the North Carolina State Capitol.
“Opioid addiction and overdose have ravaged the physical and mental health of thousands of North Carolinians, hurting our people and our economy, and we’re taking action to fight it,” Cooper said. “With this legislation and the new State Opioid Action Plan, we’re taking important first steps to stem the opioid epidemic.”
The STOP Act, which stands for the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention Act, seeks to help curb epidemic levels of opioid drug addiction and overdose in North Carolina through several key provisions, including:
- Strengthening oversight and tightening supervision on opioid prescriptions
- Requiring prescribers and pharmacies to check the prescription database before prescribing opioids to patients
- Instituting a five-day limit on initial prescriptions for acute pain, with exemptions for chronic pain, cancer care, palliative care, hospice care, or medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders
- Saving lives through increased access to naloxone which can reverse opioid overdose
- Allowing local governments to support needle exchange programs
The STOP Act was passed unanimously by both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly. At today’s bill signing, Gov. Cooper was joined by a bipartisan group of bill sponsors, Attorney General Josh Stein, Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks, law enforcement leaders and advocates for substance abuse treatment and recovery from across North Carolina.
Gov. Cooper was also joined by Marsha Gintis, the mother of Drew Gintis, a student from Athens Drive High School in Raleigh who was prescribed opiates to treat an injury he sustained while captaining the school wrestling team. Gintis became addicted to opioids and eventually died of a fentanyl overdose.
“Drew’s heartbreaking story is not unusual, and stories like this one from North Carolina families from all walks of life push us to take action,” Gov. Cooper said.
Signing the STOP Act is just one in a series of actions Gov. Cooper has taken to address the opioid crisis. He currently serves on the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, where he has advocated for expanding affordable health care options to increase access to treatment for people struggling with substance abuse across the country.
“The poison of opioid addiction is a complex public health problem and there is no single antidote,” Gov. Cooper said. “We must attack it in multiple ways.”
About the Opioid Crisis in North Carolina
More than 12,000 North Carolinians have lost their lives to opioid overdose since 1999, and opioid-related overdose deaths have spiked by more than 800 percent in the state through 2016. According to DHHS data, in 2016, opioid-related deaths were up by 20 percent from the previous year. If that rate were to continue, North Carolina could expect to lose more than 1,500 additional lives per year to opioid overdose by 2021. Gov. Cooper believes that we need to expand treatment options to people struggling with substance abuse in order to reverse the current upward trend.
About the State Opioid Action Plan
Earlier this week, Gov. Cooper joined Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. at the Opioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention Summit in Raleigh to roll out a statewide plan to fight opioid abuse and overdose deaths. To read North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan, visit ncdhhs.gov/opioids.