Gov. McAuliffe Takes A Stand Against Opioid Epidemic, Signs New Bills for Addiction Treatment
Feb 24, 2017 03:32 PM EST
Governor McAuliffe continues the fight against the opioid epidemic after signing new bills on Thursday. These bills aim to offer aid to individuals through a recovery process and to help develop improved prescription practices for healthcare providers.
The Virginia governor is currently looking into the Board of Medicine regulations, reviewing doctors’ approach to opioid prescriptions. The signed bills will require individuals with an addiction and are prescribed buprenorphine to undergo counseling.
“We must continue to emphasize addiction prevention,” Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam stated. “I commend the Governor’s administration and General Assembly leaders for working together in a bipartisan manner to expand the state’s prevention efforts and to increase access to substance abuse treatment.”
According to the Virginia Department of Health, the deaths of over 1,000 people can be attributed to fatal opioid overdoses in 2016 alone. This number indicates a 33 percent increase from that of 2015, as noted in the department's statistics report.
In response to the life-threatening opioid epidemic, McAuliffe signed the SB848 (Wexton) and HB1453 (LaRock) bills that enable community organizations to distribute naloxone to individuals or providers who have received the proper training to use such medication in blocking the effects of opioids.
The signed HB2317 (O’ Bannon) also gives permission for local health departments to conduct harm reduction programs in areas where rates of HIV and Hepatitis C are high. Through these programs, dirty syringes will be exchanged for new ones while testing for HIV and Hepatitis C will be made widely available.
For the HB1786 (Stolle), the bill calls for a family assessment along with a comprehensive plan of care developed by local social services if a child’s exposure to substances while in utero has been identified. The mother should then be connected to treatment and the necessary services should be available to ensure the welfare and safety of both child and mother.
Finally, the HB2165 (Pillion) calls for the electronic transmission of all opioid prescriptions to pharmacies by 2020. It is then crucial to establish a workgroup that will explore how this technological change can come about as soon as possible.
“Abuse of opioids continues to kill Virginians,” McAuliffe added. “We recognize that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing, and our proposals for this General Assembly session focused on preventing addiction and providing treatment for those who suffer from it.”