A group of GOP state legislators have introduced a series of bills they hope will fight back against the growing problem of heroin and opioid addiction in South Carolina. They unveiled their proposals Wednesday morning in a press conference at the capitol in Columbia.
State Rep. Eric Bedingfield, R-Belton, knows firsthand the crisis. “It took my oldest son from me about a year ago this coming month,” he told reporters. “My son struggled with a pill problem that turned into a heroin problem.”
Bedingfield said his son’s problem started just like others do, with prescription drug abuse. “It doesn’t start off with something off the black market and illegal,” said Bedingfield.
The proposed legislation is an effort to combat abuse through drug takeback programs, and requiring doctors check a patient’s prescription history before writing a new painkiller prescription.
“We have a prescription drug monitoring program in this state that’s been in existence for a decade. It’s only voluntary, it’s not mandatory,” State Rep. Phyllis Henderson, R-Greenville, said.
That particular proposal would require doctors to consult a statewide database of patients’ medical histories before writing long-term prescriptions for OxyContin and other opioids.
Another “Good Samaritan” proposal would provide limited immunity from prosecution for individuals who try to offer medical help for someone who’s overdosing. A separate bill would make it easier for people to get rid of unneeded and expired medication. It’s designed to get unused drugs out of medicine cabinets an away from people who are abusing them.