RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 325, the Opioid Epidemic Response Act, into law on Monday. The goal is to help increase access to medication assisted treatment and expand harm reduction measures to reduce opioid overdose deaths across the state.
The bill garnered widespread support from the General Assembly led by Senator Jim Davis and Senator Gladys A. Robinson.
The Opioid Epidemic Response Act will:
- Increase access to office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) for opioid use disorder: Remove duplicative state registration of buprenorphine prescribers that NC doctors widely cite as a barrier to prescribing medication-assisted treatment in the office-based setting.
- Save lives by allowing people to test drugs for dangerous contaminants like fentanyl before they use them: Decriminalize the use of paraphernalia designed to test the strength or purity of drugs, such as fentanyl test strips.
- Improve the ability of syringe exchange programs to prevent the costly spread of disease: Remove the ban on using state funds to purchase supplies for syringe exchange programs.
“This new law takes important steps to reduce harm and help doctors treat substance abuse disorder patients, and I appreciate the bipartisan effort to get this bill passed,” said Governor Cooper. “We know that improving access to care is a proven strategy to prevent more opioid deaths, and we need to expand Medicaid to help get more people health care coverage.”
From 1999-2017, more than 13,000 North Carolinians lost their lives to unintentional opioid overdose. Turning the tide of the opioid crisis is one of Governor Roy Cooper’s primary goals. Since the launch of the Opioid Action Plan in 2017, opioid dispensing has decrease by 24% and North Carolina has seen the first major decline in emergency department visits.
Lawmakers from both parties and families affected by the substance abuse crisis joined the governor as he signed the law.