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July 19, 2016

Wolf administration recommends new guidelines for prescribing opioids

Doctors and pharmacists in the state of Pennsylvania may face new guidelines for prescribing and dispensing painkillers.

Governor Tom Wolf and state health officials unveiled on Tuesday prescription recommendations for the safe and effective use of opioids.

“By reducing the pattern of overprescribing painkillers that have such a high risk for abuse, we are fighting back against opioid abuse and heroin use before those habits even begin, so I am thrilled to hear Dr. Levine’s recommendations today,” Wolf said. “I urge all state medical boards to accept these guidelines. In addition, I remain committed to working with the legislature during the upcoming special session to address the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic.”

The Wolf administration created the Safe and Effective Prescribing Practices Task Force to consider revised rules.

The task force suggested six guidelines for prescribing opioids:

• Emergency Department Pain Treatment Guidelines: To appropriately relieve pain while identifying potential abuse or addiction.

• Opioid Use and Safe Prescribing for Geriatric Pain: To examine unique problems when treating older adults for non-cancer pain.

• Guidelines on the Use of Opioids to Treat Chronic Non-cancer Pain: To address the treament of all chronic non-cancer pain.

• Guidelines on the Use of Opioids in a Dental Practice: To address dentists administering opioids to patients.

• Obstetrics and Gynecology Pain Treatment: To review the use of opioids during and after pregnancy, including breastfeeding.

• Opioid Dispensing Guidelines: To evaluate how pharmacists assess the appropriateness of prescriptions.

State Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine sent the guidelines to the state Board of Medicine, Board of Pharmacy and Board of Dentistry.

All guidelines were adopted by the Board of Medicine and Board of Pharmacy.

However, the Board of Medicine only adopted rules regarding use in emergency rooms and chronic non-cancer pain. The board will vote on the remaining guidelines next month.

The Wolf administration requested additional funding to fight the state's opioid epidemic in the this year's budget negotiations, securing $20.4 million in 2016-17.