CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- North Carolina's top health officials want to limit how many opioid pills patients can get at once.
That's why a new law goes into effect on New Year's Day that does just that, hopefully tackling the opioid crisis in the Tar Heel state.
About three people die every single day of drug overdoses in North Carolina and opioid pain killers are responsible for a about half of those. State lawmakers hope the reduction will keep patients from getting hooked on the drugs and to reduce the supply from getting on the streets and out of the hands of children and teens.
Drug overdose deaths have tripled nationwide since 1999 that's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2016 alone, pharmacies in North Carolina gave out more than 675 million opioid pills.
All of which prompted lawmakers to pass the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevent Act, also called the STOP Act for 2018. It sets new limits on how many drugs can be prescribed during a patients first visit.
Doctors will only be able to give out five days worth of opioid drugs for acute pain from broken bones or a car crash or 7 days worth after surgery. Doctors can prescribe refills if needed but that first prescription will be limited. The new limits do not apply for patients with chronic pain or nursing homes or hospice.
Also a part of the Stop Act, doctors and pharmacists have new requirements to report all prescriptions to the states' controlled substance database. It allows medical professionals to track who's getting the drugs so that people addicted to opioid drugs cannot go from one doctor to another to get more.