Alabama Board of Medical Examiners

The state of Alabama has been selected to take part in a national project to help combat the opioid epidemic across the country.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced earlier this week that the state will participate in a National Governors Association learning lab to address the opioid issue. The project aims to reduce the number of overdoses and deaths related to heroin and prescription opiates like fentanyl. Current data shows 78 people nationwide die of an opiate overdose every day.

The Alabama Senate Health Committee has passed a bill that will allow nurse practitioners and nurse midwives to write prescriptions for certain controlled substances.

The committee's unanimous vote Wednesday sends the bill to the Senate for consideration.

Proponents of the bill say it aims to increase access to medical care, especially in rural areas. They said some rural residents must travel 30 miles or more to get a prescription for cough syrup or to renew prescriptions.