South Carolina’s governor announced Monday that he’s using executive orders to limit opioid prescriptions under two state programs and start a response team to look for ways to fight abuse of the powerful drugs.
Gov. Henry McMaster held a news conference at the state Emergency Operations Center to announce the moves aimed at fighting a deadly wave of opioid abuse in the state.
“There’s a silent hurricane going on in our state that has hit us, and it’s getting worse. And it hits us every year. It’s called the opioid crisis,” he said.
McMaster said opioid overdoses caused 616 deaths in the state in 2016, nearly double the state’s 366 homicides and 331 drunken driving deaths in the same period.
He has directed state health officials to limit initial opioid prescriptions to five days for post-operation pain and other acute needs for Medicaid recipients in the state system. Patients would have to make a request if they need more.
The governor said the state employee benefits system will put similar limitations on its health plans, and he’s also asked the legislature to consider making such limits state law for all residents.
McMaster also declared a statewide public health emergency that will allow authorities to more easily coordinate emergency management, health care and law enforcement resources. And he’s convening an opioid emergency response team including law enforcement officials, health providers and state regulators.
“A collaborative approach is the only thing that will work,” he said
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