SC Gov. Signs Executive Order Limiting Initial Prescription of Opioids to Five Days


By Liz Carey

Columbia, SC ( – Prior to the holidays, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, citing an opioid epidemic in his state, signed an executive order limiting the initial prescription of opioids to five days. 

In a press conference in Columbia, McMaster announced he would be implementing a comprehensive, statewide response to the “opioid epidemic” and declare a statewide public health emergency as a result. The emergency declaration allows state officials, private partners and law enforcement to utilize the emergency management infrastructure to combat the opioid crisis, the governor’s office said in a press release.

"The opioid crisis is one that has invaded so many aspects of the lives of South Carolinians and of families across the country," said Gov. Henry McMaster in a statement. "We are confident that if there is a group capable of combating this problem, providing treatment for those affected, and bringing about tangible results that will change lives, it’s this group of dedicated, talented individuals that we have been able to put together."

McMaster signed two executive orders – one creating an “Opioid Emergency Response Team” led by state law enforcement and public health officials. Consisting of state and federal law enforcement agencies, state health and regulatory agencies, healthcare providers and other stakeholders, the Response Team will meet monthly for six months to assess outcomes, evaluate new information and develop strategic plans. The team held its first meeting on Dec. 19.

"Unfortunately, we know that we have not yet reached the peak of the opioid crisis," said Sara Goldsby, Interim Director of DAODAS (Dept. of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services). "While our work in South Carolina is urgent and ongoing, cross-sector coordination is key to comprehensively addressing this public health crisis and its related consequences. The Opioid Emergency Response Team that the governor is establishing can strategically optimize information, data, and partnerships. The attention and response at this level will also help reduce the stigma of addiction that in part fuels the problem."

The governor also signed an executive order that would limit opioid prescriptions for acute and post-operative pain to a maximum of five days. The executive order only applies to state Medicaid recipients. The order also asked the South Carolina legislature to pass legislation making the five-day limitation a statewide law for all opioid prescriptions.

Requests for comment from the South Carolina Medical Association, the Medical Society of South Carolina and the Pharmacy Board of South Carolina were not returned by press time.

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