Blue Cross and Blue Shield says thousands of physicians continually break evolving North Carolina laws regarding prescriptions for opiates—but acknowledges the difficulties both of keeping track of those laws on the physicians’ part and enforcing them on the state’s part. The challenge may be especially great in regard to the NC STOP Act, which limits opioid prescriptions to 5 days for first-time patients with short-term pain (or 7 days if the patient had surgery). The state health department says more than 16,000 physicians prescribed too many opioids in March alone, a scale that the Medical Board confesses may be too great to allow for effective enforcement. Consequently, it could be months before any prescribers are held accountable. Blue Cross began blocking prescriptions that went beyond 7 days in April—which amounted to heading off more than 1,100 prescriptions and as many as 30,000 opioid pills from being dispensed in the first 2 weeks of its implementation. Based on that figure, the company estimates that 225,000 to 275,000 opioid painkillers have been overprescribed. Nearly 12,600 deaths in North Carolina between 1999 and 2016 were attributed to opioid use.
Keep Up to Date (and in Compliance) with Changing Laws Regarding Opiates