State adopts new opioid regulations

DOVER — Delaware has instituted new regulations in an effort to combat opioid addiction, the Department of State announced Monday.

The policy, set down after more than a year of cooperation between state officials, medical professionals and others, provides limits on dispensing drugs and seeks to better educate Delawareans about the risks.

The new regulations state a first-time prescription for an adult cannot provide more than a seven-day supply. Minors can never be given more than seven days’ worth of painkillers.

In the event a doctor determines a patient needs a larger supply, he or she must thoroughly document the condition, examine the patients’ prescription history, schedule follow-up appointments and warn the patient about the dangers of opioids.

Patients must be made aware of the risk of addiction, how opioids interact with other drugs and the potential for accidental overdoses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 198 Delawareans died in 2015 from opioids. The First State’s rate of 22 people per 100,000 was 12th in the country.

The General Assembly created a committee to examine drug deaths and made drug dealing a specific crime last session.

“A major impediment to families being stable and successful is the opioid crisis plaguing our state and country,” Gov. John Carney said in an address to the legislature last week. “When last measured, Delaware had the nation’s fifth highest overall rate of opioid sales. And in too many cases opioid abuse contributes to our state’s tragic heroin problem.”

The regulations, which went into effect Saturday, are administered by the Division of Professional Regulation.

“These regulations are an important piece of our state’s effort to combat opioid abuse and heroin addiction,” Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock, whose department houses the Division of Professional Regulation, said in a statement. “Many users of heroin have told us that their battles with addiction started when they were prescribed opiates for valid medical needs.”

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