- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia lawmakers are beginning to work on tackling the state’s opioid crisis.

Several bills intended to stem the growing addiction to opioids or related consequences advanced in the Legislature on Thursday.

A Senate committee passed a measure directing the state Boards of Dentistry and Medicine to adopt regulations for the prescribing of opioids and products containing buprenorphine, which is used to treat opioid addiction.

In a House committee c, a bill that would legalize needle exchange programs cleared an early hurdle. Public health officials say such programs help prevent outbreaks of HIV or hepatitis C.

Health Commissioner Marissa Levine declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in November.

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