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State takes on opioid addiction with 7-day limit on prescriptions

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New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has signed a bill into law that takes aim at the state's opioid problem, with changes that include limiting initial prescriptions to seven days.

The legislation, which the governor signed Wednesday, is one of four measures that state officials are enacting that aim to help fight the narcotic epidemic. In addition to the prescription change to seven days from the original 30 days for first-time opioid prescriptions, insurers are prohibited from requiring approval prior to treating a substance abuser, prescribers are mandated to be educated on pain management, and 2,335 substance abuse treatment program slots are to be added to Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, according to the bill.

New York's 2016-17 state budget allocated $189 million to fund these efforts, a statement said.

The new law that will limit quantities prescribed to seven days goes into effect in 30 days after enactment. After that, refills will only be allowed with further consultation with the prescribing physician or clinician.

“New York is leading the way forward in the fight against heroin and opioid addiction, and with this legislation, we are taking an affirmative stand for our families and communities who have suffered from this epidemic's debilitating effects,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement. “I commend the Senate and the Assembly for their hard work and dedication to stopping this epidemic and creating a stronger and healthier New York.”

“New York has done an admirable job of taking a holistic and well-rounded approach to dealing with the opioid epidemic, which in reality is the only effective way to induce change,” said Mark Pew, senior vice president at Duluth, Georgia-based medical management company Prium. “Limiting prescriptions to no more than seven days makes a lot of sense, but so does required education by prescribers and from pharmacists to patients, as does increasing availability and timeliness for treatment for those who have already become addicted.”

Massachusetts in March was the first state in the U.S. to pass a seven-day limit on opioid prescriptions.