According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the North Carolina Center for Health Statistics, there are 97 opioid prescriptions for every 100 North Carolina residents, and opioid overdose deaths are up in the state by 32 percent over the past decade. Faced with this prescription opioid crisis in North Carolina, the NCMB launched its Safe Opioid Prescribing Initiative in April 2016.
The initiative is designed as a method of protective oversight with the NCMB investigating licensees who prescribe large numbers of high dose opioids and who have had two or more patients die of opioid overdose within a 12-month period. Meeting the criteria for investigation is not evidence of wrongdoing, simply the threshold by which the NCMB may begin an investigation. Since the initiative launched nearly a year ago, 22 percent of the cases investigated resulted in public adverse action, 33 percent resulted in a private action and 44 percent of the cases were closed with no formal action.
Also at its January meeting, the Board voted to adopt the CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, which was developed in 2016. The NCMB firmly states its primary goal is to prevent inappropriate prescribing, not to disrupt the treatment of patients with a legitimate need for pain management.
You may also be interested in data collected by the NC Department of Health and Human Services including usage by county of the Controlled Substance Reporting System (CSRS) and opioid prescriptions by county. Access that data.
Legislators, too, are looking at ways to address the opioid abuse epidemic in our state. The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) anticipates bills will be introduced this session seeking to regulate how you prescribe opioids. Watch your NCMS Bulletin and our weekly Bowtie Briefing video and Legislative Update blog posts for details.