STOP Act to track opioid distribution takes effect in NC

by WorldTribune Staff, January 3, 2018

Physician assistants, nurse practitioners and pharmacies in North Carolina are now required to consult with a supervising physician before prescribing targeted controlled substances under a new law that tracks opioid distribution.

The Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention Act – or STOP Act – went into effect on Jan. 1.

On average, three people a day die from opioid overdoses in North Carolina, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

For every death, there are three hospitalizations and four emergency room visits on top of that, the department said.

Under the STOP Act:

  • A supervising physician must be consulted prior to prescribing the targeted controlled substance to the patient if the prescription is expected to exceed a period of 30 days.
  • The prescriber also must consult with the supervising assistant every 90 days to determine if the medicine is still medically appropriate for the patient.
  • Pharmacies can only accept electronic prescriptions for targeted controlled substances, unless there’s a system or electrical failure.
  • For acute pain treatment, prescribers may not prescribe more than a five-day supply of any targeted controlled substance unless the substance is needed to treat postoperative acute pain.
  • Postoperative acute pain allows for prescriptions for up to seven days of a targeted controlled substance.

In addition to limits on amounts prescribed, pharmacies are no longer allowed to fill written or electronic prescriptions that are more than six months old.

Physicians, pharmacies and health departments also must use the new reporting system to track who is being prescribed controlled substances, how often and how much.

Beginning Feb. 1, 2019, health departments will be required to compile the information collected on the controlled substances reporting system.

The STOP Act also clarifies what type of funding may be used to purchase needles, syringes and other injection supplies for needle exchange programs.

Originally, the act said no public funds could be used for these programs; now it reads only state funds cannot be used to fund needle exchange programs.

Last month, the Catawba County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution declaring opioids as public nuisance in an effort to take legal action against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

To view other new North Carolina laws, visit

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