Sasser’s bill to educate patients about opioids passes in House, now in Senate

N.C. Rep. Wayne Sasser (R-Stanly) introduced a bill last month that would help educate patients about the potential dangers of opioids along with ways to prevent overdoses, in an effort to help further curb the ongoing opioid epidemic.

House Bill 287, also known as Educate Patients About Opioid Antagonists, was unanimously passed in the House last week and is now making its way through the Senate.

The bill would require health care practitioners and pharmacists to provide information to patients with prescriptions for opioid medication or to treat opioid use disorder about the potential dangers of opioids and how overdoses can be prevented. This can be done through one-on-one conversations with patients or posting the relevant information on signs.

As part of HB 287, doctors and pharmacists would also have access to FDA-approved drugs such as naxalone, a medication that can quickly reverse overdoses.

“I think people often say, ‘Well my doctor prescribed this medicine for me. It can’t be dangerous,’ ” Sasser, a pharmacist and co-chairman of the House’s Health Standing Committee, said. “Well, if you don’t take it the way the doctor prescribed it, then yes, it can be dangerous.”

Recognizing that people sometimes take more pills than necessary, HB 287 is another way of making sure “that people taking a strong medication know what they’re doing,” he said.

Nearly eight North Carolinians die each day from opioid overdoses while more than 28,000 people across the state died from drug overdoses from 2000-2020, according to state data. Twenty-five Stanly County residents lost their lives to an overdose in 2021.

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