State lawmakers have ratified a bill to help prevent heroin and other opioids from coursing through the veins of North Carolina.

House Bill 243 targets the misuse of certain controlled substances by establishing laws that physicians and pharmacies must follow.

According to Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood, those laws will help his deputies combat a deadly epidemic.

“This is the plague of this century and we’re dealing with it in the best way we can, but we realized early on that we didn’t have enough jails, police officers, deputies and troopers to attack this alone,” he relayed.

“It’s really empowering to us to note that all of our House supported this in a bipartisan move.”

The bill allows for wider use of an opioid overdose reversal agent known as naloxone and puts tighter limits on prescription drug doses.

Blackwood explained that broad attempts are being made by the bill to prevent opioid addiction rather than mitigate it.

“Collectively, it casts a very large net,” he stated.

“It’s going to require that the physicians writing the prescriptions, the insurance companies proving the bills, the lawmakers creating laws and those who have control over money for policies and programs all work together with one goal in mind, and that is to limit the availability and to remove the need.”

Community health groups may now administer naloxone to people at risk of experiencing opioid-related overdoses.

That policy was endorsed by Blackwood as a way to help rehabilitate opioid addicts that disregard current narcotics laws.

“Never before has this drug been so widely needed, and having better availability, better funding to purchase and issue it to our officers is very important,” he noted.

“The back side of this is now we’ve got funding and programs that are going to be put in place to actually treat the person; we’ve said all along [that] we can create all the laws we want to, but you can’t arrest away this problem.”

The bill was also ratified in the midst of higher reported uses of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that limits the effectiveness of naloxone.

“The heroin that’s on the street, the naloxone works for that; when you mix the synthetic fentanyl in with the heroin or whatever else that they’re mixing in, it becomes less effective, and some of the fentanyl that’s hit the market requires multiple doses of the naxolone to even take any effect,” he reported.

“Sadly, many people are dying because it’s not having an effect.”

Medical practitioners are now obligated to participate in an electronic reporting system that tracks opioid prescriptions.

The system allows for five-day or seven-day allotments of the medication based on whether the patient is post-operative.

A report on the effectiveness of the system is expected to be compiled annually by state health officials starting in 2019.

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