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Trending topic: NC’s new opioid prescribing limits

The prescribing limits contained in NC’s opioids law, the STOP Act of 2017, took effect Jan. 1, imposing new restrictions on initial prescriptions for acute pain. This change to state law has generated many questions from prescribers and patients.

The basics
The limits apply to initial prescriptions for acute pain, including post-operative pain, when a Schedule II or Schedule III opioid or narcotic is prescribed. For post-operative pain, initial prescriptions must be limited to no more than a 7-day supply. For non-postoperative pain, initial prescriptions must be limited to no more than a 5-day supply. The STOP Act’s prescribing limits do not affect prescriptions for chronic pain patients.

Learn more
NCMB has created an extensive list of FAQs about the new prescribing limits to help licensees understand what they do – and do not – change about current acceptable clinical practices when treating acute pain. The Board first distributed this content to email readers of the Forum in January in the digital supplement NCMB is testing in between full issues of the newsletter.

The FAQs present basic information about the prescribing limits, as well as specific scenarios in which the limits do and do not apply.

What kinds of questions?

You’ll find this and other questions in our prescribing limit FAQs:

Q: Are prescriptions for Tussionex subject to the new prescribing limits?
A: No. Although Tussionex (hydrocodone syrup) is a Schedule II drug, it is typically prescribed for cough, not acute pain. The STOP Act prescribing limits apply only when a Schedule II or Schedule III opioid is prescribed for acute pain. That said, Tussionex is frequently abused and prescribers should exercise caution when writing for this medication. Consider prescribing a short course sufficient to get the patient through the illness, rather than authorizing whatever insurance will cover (e.g. 30 days).

Find the STOP Act prescribing limits FAQs at