• 70°

State senator says unanimous support possible for opioid bill

McInnis

Sen. Tom McInnis, who represents the 25th senate district.

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Unanimous approval could be a reality for a bill in the state legislature aimed at combating an opioid-abuse epidemic, says Sen. Tom McInnis, R-25.

McInnis helped introduce the bill, known as the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention Act. He said the opioid crisis affects every family in North Carolina.

“I’m talking about the whole family tree, from grandpapa down to grandbaby,” he said. “They’ll have a broken bone at some point in their life, a root canal, a rotor cuff injury or, for heaven’s sake, be in an automobile accident. They’re going to be subjected to receiving these drugs and will either love them or going to hate them.”

If a person ends up hating prescription pain bills, McInnis said, there’s a chance the bottle will be tucked away in a medicine cabinet. That scenario poses the potential for a thief to take the pills and sell them.

An alternative is for people to become addicted to the pills.

The opioid bill, which has bipartisan support, would put limits on initial prescriptions; appropriate $20 million for community-based treatment and recovery services; put new restrictions on medical providers of opioid drugs; and extend standing orders for antagonist drugs, which prevent the body from responding to opioids.

Asked about support in the N.C. General Assembly for the opioid bill, McInnis said he “can’t see why it would not be” unanimous.

“We have got to limit that supply,” McInnis said. “We don’t want to keep somebody from meeting the protocol of pain management for this issue, but there are plenty of other things that can be used as far as drugs that are not as highly addictive once you get over those first days.”

McInnis, a primary sponsor, said his role in the bill included crafting maximum limits for initial prescriptions. Specifically, the bill would allow only a five-day prescription for certain drugs for acute pain. A seven-day limit applies for pain relief after surgery. Following a subsequent consultation, a prescription could be issued for any time period deemed appropriate, the bill states.

For McInnis, the desire to stem the tide of opioid addiction is personal. When he introduced the bill last week, he spoke about his stepson, who died because of a drug addition in 2007. McInnis said his stepson’s drug addiction intensified when he was prescribed an opioid after an automobile accident.

State statistics show a sharp increase in recent years in the number of local deaths from overdoses. In 1999, the total number of opiate poisoning deaths in Rowan County was four. It jumped to 23 by 2004 and has fluctuated in years since. In 2015, the number of opiate poisoning deaths was 29.

All members of Rowan County’s delegation to the General Assembly have said they support the opioid bill. Sen. Andrew Brock, R-34, signed on as a co-sponsor.

Supporters also include Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook, who spoke about the bill during last week’s local Republican Party convention. She said the bill appears to directly target the core of the opioid epidemic. Oftentimes, heroin users start with an addiction to prescription medication, she said. When people can’t buy heroin, Cook said, they break into homes and cars to get money for drugs.

“If you don’t have folks that can initially get them, the painkillers, then that will hopefully reduce the folks that then turn to heroin,” Cook said. “You’ve got the buyers. You’ve got the sellers. You’ve literally got the soccer moms that are living in the nice neighborhoods and go to the corner to get their $10 fix.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the bill had been referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Operations.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

Comments

Local

Catawba holds baccalaureate services for Class of 2021

News

$9M settlement for two men wrongfully sent to death row

Nation/World

China lands spacecraft on Mars in latest advance for its space program

Business

Gas crunch hits Washington; Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million in Bitcoin ransom

Coronavirus

State mostly returns to normal operations after 15 months of lockdowns, restrictions

Crime

Blotter: Man accused of stealing car, crashing it

Crime

Man faces new charge of attempted murder for father’s shooting

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper lifts indoor mask mandate for most situations, gathering limits

Crime

Barnes gets new punishment of two life sentences in Tutterow couple’s 1992 murder

High School

High school football: State’s top honor goes to Jalon Walker

Local

Scout’s Honor: With dedication of flag retirement box, Salem Fleming earns Eagle Scout rank

College

North Carolina king, queen of NCAA lacrosse tourneys

Education

Kannapolis seniors walk elementary schools

Local

Local real estate company employees come out in force to build Habitat house

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Auditors find oversight lacking for $3 billion of state’s pandemic aid

Nation/World

When will gas situation return to normal?

Local

Rowan native Shuping posthumously receives Concord Police Department’s Medal of Valor, Purple Heart

News

GOP measure on penalties for rioting draws fire

News

Black high school softball player told to cut hair

Coronavirus

State shows 303 COVID-19 deaths in Rowan

Coronavirus

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Crime

One arrested, another hospitalized in Castor Road stabbing

China Grove

China Grove Roller Mill open for tours Saturday