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September 28, 2016

Gov. Wolf pushes state lawmakers for bills to combat opioid addiction

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued a challenge Wednesday for more effective legislation on the state's drug epidemic.

Wolf addressed a joint session of the Senate and House to lay out his priorities to combat the ongoing effort.

“It is up to us to tackle the opioid crisis and give Pennsylvania the prosperous, healthy and safe future we know it deserves," Wolf said. "I look forward to a productive session and real progress toward stopping the opioid epidemic. Let us, here in Pennsylvania, lead the nation in fighting this crisis."

Wolf wants lawmakers to require doctors and physicians to check the state's newly launched prescription drug monitor program before prescribing opioids. Right now, a check of the state database is only required when doctors prescribe patients for the first time.

The system, which state lawmakers passed in October 2014, is designed to prevent "doctor shopping."

Limiting the amount of pain medication prescribed in emergency rooms and to minors was another point emphasized by Wolf. The proposal would not affect doctor's ability to treat patients with legitimate pain. Wolf suggested patients should only receive a seven-day supply with no refills.

Lastly, Wolf proposed the establishment of a voluntary declaration for patients who do not want to be prescribed opioids. The directive would prevent doctors and physicians from administering opioids to those patients.

"With 10 Pennsylvanians a day being lost to this horrible epidemic, working together for quick action is more important than ever,” Wolf said.

State officials reported that more than 3,500 people died in Pennsylvania due to drug overdoses in 2015.