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New Law to Strengthen State Efforts to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

Thursday July 11, 2013



Raleigh, N.C. - Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation on June 19 that will strengthen and improve the North Carolina Controlled Substances Reporting System (CSRS) and make it a more useful tool to identify individuals who might be abusing or misusing prescription medications, refer them to treatment, and to prevent inappropriate use or distribution of prescription drugs. 

"Governor McCrory has made substance abuse prevention and treatment a priority issue for his administration," said Dr. Aldona Wos, secretary of the N. C. Department of Health and Human Services.  "We have not had a champion for this issue in the Governor's office since the Martin administration and we appreciate Governor McCrory's emphasis on this important issue that affects so many communities and families across North Carolina."

The improvements to the CSRS were enacted in Session Law 2013-152, Senate Bill 222.  Portions of the law will be phased in over the next few months and some sections will become effective on January 1, 2014. Provisions of the law will:

  • Make it easier for prescribers and dispensers to obtain information from the CSRS by allowing them to delegate the task of gathering the information from the system to another registered person in their office,
  • Expand the entry requirements to include physician-dispensed medications in addition to those dispensed by a pharmacist,
  • Allow the N. C. Department of Health and Human Services to alert providers to patterns of risk that we identify, and
  • Require providers to enter information within three days of the drug being dispensed, which will mean more timely information is available to all prescribers.

In a continuing effort to help doctors and pharmacists provide safer care, the new law will allow DHHS to alert prescribers and dispensers about patients who have obtained prescriptions in a manner that may represent abuse, diversion of controlled substances, or an increased risk of harm to the patient.

"These new improvements will make the system easier to use and hopefully energize prescribers and dispensers to register and utilize this powerful tool," said Wos.

Currently, 31 percent of doctors and 38 percent of pharmacists are registered to use the system. DHHS is working to streamline the registration process and encourage more professionals to register.  A new partnership with the N.C. Board of Pharmacy has brought more than 450 new pharmacists on board in the past month.

 A recent study by UNC-CH showed that patients with a high risk profile for substance abuse who see a CSRS registered physician are five-times more likely to be referred to treatment than those who see a doctor not registered in the system.

Additional information and registration instructions can be found at