Fighting the Opioids Battle
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster addressed the Governor's Opioid Conference on Sept. 6 in Columbia. The conference included roundtable discussions and exhibits from healthcare professionals, state and local agencies, members of the South Carolina law enforcement community, and other experts and stakeholders. The event provided an opportunity for community leaders to collaborate on how to combat the opioid epidemic head on and how continue to improve the services South Carolina provides those suffering from opioid use disorder. During the Summit, Governor McMaster presented 15 local law enforcement agencies with awards for their life-saving administration of Naloxone to individuals experiencing an overdose. In December of 2017, Governor McMaster issued two executive orders related to the opioid epidemic, the first of which declared a statewide public health emergency for the opioid epidemic and another, which created the S.C. Opioid Emergency Response Team. That team is led by State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel, and Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services Director Sara Goldsby and consists of representatives from state and federal law enforcement agencies, state health and regulatory agencies, health care treatment providers, and other stakeholders. In June of this year and at the direction of Governor McMaster, the Opioid Emergency Response Team released the state’s Opioid Emergency Response Plan, which focuses on four primary priorities: education and communication, prevention and response, treatment and recovery, and law enforcement coordination. Also in June of this year, Governor McMaster signed nine bills into law aimed at combatting the opioid epidemic, which included bills increasing education requirements for prescribers, expanding the ability for treatment organizations to distribute Naloxone, and limiting the maximum number of days that an initial opioid-based prescription can be issued to seven. Additionally, in his FY 2018-19 Executive Budget, Governor McMaster allocated $10 million in funding for treatment, prevention, and education efforts. His recommendation was approved by the General Assembly and the governor signed a budget into law that included these funds.