An effort to strengthen a system for doctors to check their patients’ prescription history is now law in South Carolina.
“We’re now going to join 26 other states in requiring physicians, and others who prescribe controlled substances… to check the state’s prescription drug monitoring database to check a patient’s prescription history,” State Rep. Phyllis Henderson, R-Greenville, said during a ceremonial bill-signing ceremony in the Governor’s Office on Tuesday.
The signing was ceremonial because Gov. Henry McMaster had already officially signed the bill into law on May 19.
McMaster said the new requirements allow South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to detect prescribing patterns which can indicate abuse.
“You cannot manage a problem or a situation unless you can measure it,” he told reporters. “And this new law will allow the monitoring of prescriptions of controlled substances by a whole range of practitioners.”
Medical practitioners had already been encouraged to use the Prescription Monitoring Program database, but participation will now be mandatory.
House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee Chairman Eric Bedingfield, R-Belton, lost his son to opioid abuse last year. “Our goal here is to save lives and protect people,” Bedingfield said at the ceremonial signing.
The bill is among a half-dozen being pushed by lawmakers in an effort to halt worsening rates of opioid overdoses in South Carolina. The state Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) said deaths due to prescription misuse of opioid drugs or heroin led to 594 deaths across South Carolina in 2015, the most recent year available. DAODAS director Sara Goldsby believes the numbers will likely increase when the 2016 data is released later this summer.