90-113.71. Legislative findings and purpose.

(a) The General Assembly makes the following findings:

(1) North Carolina is experiencing an epidemic of poisoning deaths from unintentional drug overdoses.

(2) Since 1997, the number of deaths from unintentional drug overdoses has increased threefold, from 228 deaths in 1997 to 690 deaths in 2003.

(3) The number of unintentional deaths from illicit drugs in North Carolina has decreased since 1992 while unintentional deaths from licit drugs, primarily prescriptions, have increased.

(4) Licit drugs are now responsible for over half of the fatal unintentional poisonings in North Carolina.

(5) Over half of the prescription drugs associated with unintentional deaths are narcotics (opioids).

(6) Of these licit drugs, deaths from methadone, usually prescribed as an analgesic for severe pain, have increased sevenfold since 1997.

(7) Methadone from opioid treatment program clinics is a negligible source of the methadone that has contributed to the dramatic increase in unintentional methadone-related deaths in North Carolina.

(8) Review of the experience of the 19 states that have active controlled substances reporting systems clearly documents that implementation of these reporting systems do not create a "chilling" effect on prescribing.

(9) Review of data from controlled substances reporting systems help:

a. Support the legitimate medical use of controlled substances.

b. Identify and prevent diversion of prescribed controlled substances.

c. Reduce morbidity and mortality from unintentional drug overdoses.

d. Reduce the costs associated with the misuse and abuse of controlled substances.

e. Assist clinicians in identifying and referring for treatment patients misusing controlled substances.

f. Reduce the cost for law enforcement of investigating cases of diversion and misuse.

g. Inform the public, including health care professionals, of the use and abuse trends related to prescription drugs.

(b) This Article is intended to improve the State's ability to identify controlled substance abusers or misusers and refer them for treatment, and to identify and stop diversion of prescription drugs in an efficient and cost-effective manner that will not impede the appropriate medical utilization of licit controlled substances. (2005-276, s. 10.36(a).)