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Governor McAuliffe signs new bills amid increasing opioid epidemic

RICHMOND (WSLS 10) - Governor McAuliffe signed new bills today to help with the continuing opioid epidemic.

The bills are designed to help people with their recovery process and help create better prescription practices for doctors. He is currently reviewing the Board of Medicine regulations to review when doctors prescribe opioids. The new regulations will also require that when a person with an addiction is prescribed buprenorphine they will get counseling.

“We must continue to emphasize addiction prevention," said Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam.  "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.”

Although final numbers are not yet available, the Virginia Department of Health estimates that more than 1,000 people died from fatal opioid overdoses in 2016 which is a 33 percent increase from 2015.

Governor McAuliffe signed the following bills:

  • SB848 (Wexton) and HB1453 (LaRock) allow community organizations to possess and dispense naloxone to those that they train to use it.
  • HB2317 (O’Bannon) allows local departments of health to administer harm reduction programs in parts of the state with very high rates of HIV and Hep C. These programs will exchange dirty syringes for clean ones, offer testing for Hep C and HIV, and connect people to addiction treatment.
  • HB1786 (Stolle) initiates a family assessment and plan of care from local social services if a child is found to have been exposed to substances in utero. This connects the mother to treatment if necessary and provides services to ensure the safety of both the mother and the child.
  • HB2165 (Pillion) mandates that all opioid prescriptions will be transmitted to pharmacies electronically by 2020 and creates a workgroup to study how to implement this change.

 

“Abuse of opioids continues to kill Virginians,” said Governor McAuliffe. “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. While our overdose death statistics, sadly, continue to rise, each number represents a family that is suffering. We will use every tool we can get to continue this fight.”