Opioid limits for ER patients, more changes approved to address crisis
Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | 10.27.16
Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke
(Harrisburg) -- The opioid and drug addiction crisis has killed about 7,000 Pennsylvanians in the past two years.
For the first time since the epidemic erupted, the state Legislature has approved a package of bills to try to prevent more people from getting addicted.
The bills force health care professionals to check a statewide database before writing an opioid prescription, and limit prescriptions in the emergency room to seven days, limit prescriptions for minors, and add training in pain management for providers.
Governor Tom Wolf is expected to sign the legislation next week.
It would have required insurers to cover opioids that are harder to abuse.
A last-minute amendment earned the ire of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, and the bill didn't get a final vote.
Jeff Sheridan, Governor Wolf's spokesman, says the group's opposition was disappointing.
"There's no merit to their concern that this would erode any type of relationship between a doctor and a patient. None of these bills seek to do that. These bills seek to save lives and help doctors have the tools that they need to combat this crisis," says Sheridan.
"You know, we've worked a lot with them in the past, but on this particular bill that was a priority for both the Governor and Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature and that would have helped deter the abuse of opioids, they worked to oppose it, and it's really disappointing."
The Medical Society says it supported the bill until an amendment added rules requiring prescribers to hand out a pamphlet with every opioid prescription. The amendment, from Republican Senator Don White of Armstrong County, also ordered the state to develop mandatory prescription guidelines for the abuse-deterrent drugs.
Amendments can be added late in the voting process, to address deficiencies in a bill, fix typos or any number of issues. Senators may also propose amendments to derail a bill, just before it's set to get a final vote.
Senator White did not immediately return a request for comment.
Meanwhile, Sheridan says Wolf hopes to continue work with the Legislature to stop the opioid crisis.
Published in PA Policy