COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) – A bill recently signed into law in South Carolina will give certain people on opioids easier access to an overdose reversal drug.

South Carolina is one of the first states to enact a co-prescription policy. Those who meet certain qualifications will be prescribed Naloxone, an overdose reversal drug, along with the opioid.

“If you were given a high dose of an opioid, if you are also prescribed a benzodiazepine or if you have a prior history of opioid-use with a disorder or an overdose itself, those would be the circumstances in which this bill would trigger that co-prescription,” said Russell Fry, Horry County state representative.

He says this will save countless lives because many of the overdoses in South Carolina are accidental. “Things happen sometimes,” Fry said. “If you take opioids for chronic pain as an example, you might forget what day it is and take two or too many.”

Representative Fry also believes co-prescription legislation will help patients have more meaningful conversations with their doctors, something Dr. Paul Richardson says is important when prescribing opioids. Richardson is the chief medical officer for Conway Medical Center.

“There is almost more of a contractual relationship, so that we know the patients understand what they are taking, make sure they understand that we are going to be monitoring that they are taking it and it’s not being diverted to anyone else,” Dr. Richardson explained.

Both Rep. Fry and Dr. Richardson agree there is a stigma associated with taking opioids.

“Especially in today’s medical practice, there is a lot more attention, a lot more scrutiny, much of it rightfully so with prescription opioid medication,” Dr. Richardson said. “As an internal medical physician myself, I do know that opioids do still have a place in medical practice.”

Dr. Richardson says an opioid portal also helps doctors prescribe the medication responsibly. “In our state, there is a registry that opioid prescriptions go in, so we are supposed to be checking that,” he explained. “If I write you an opioid prescription, I should be looking to make sure you haven’t received prescriptions from multiple other providers.

The co-prescription policy goes into effect on July 25.