Attention is being focused at both the national and state level on the epidemic of opioid abuse. At the state level, the General Assembly recently adopted budget provisions that:

  • Directs health care provider occupational licensing boards, including the NC Medical Board, to require continuing education on the abuse of controlled substances as a condition of license renewal for health care providers who prescribe controlled substances. This has been proposed repeatedly in recent years. The NCMS generally opposes these types of mandates. However, with prescription drug abuse growing in North Carolina and the use of the Controlled Substances Reporting System (CSRS) remaining low, we expect this new requirement to be implemented in the near future. The NCMS will work with the NC Medical Board to ensure a fair and transparent application of this new requirement.
  • Call for improvements to the CSRS system, including enabling a state-wide connection capability, which will greatly improve the functionality and utility of the information stored in this database.
  • Establishes a new Prescription Drug Abuse Advisory Committee in the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) to create and implement a new statewide strategic plan to combat prescription drug abuse.

These initiatives mirror what is happening at the national level. Patrice A. Harris, MD, who is the AMA Chair-elect and Chair of the AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse shared her thoughts and a call to action on the need for measurable reductions in opioid-related harm while preserving access to safe and effective pain care in this recent blog post from the AMA.