HARRISBURG – The General Assembly today unanimously approved and sent to the governor legislation sponsored by Senator Tom Killion (R-9) to implement Safe Opioid Prescribing Curriculum in Pennsylvania’s medical training facilities, in an effort to stem the state’s growing opioid addiction crisis.
Senate Bill 1368 calls for a focus in five key areas, including pain management; multimodal treatments for chronic pain that minimize the use of a controlled substance containing an opioid; instruction on safe methods of prescribing a controlled substance containing an opioid that follows guideline-based care; identification of patients who have been identified as at-risk for developing problems with prescription opioids; and teaching medical students how to manage substance abuse disorders as a chronic disease.
Last week, during a House Health Committee vote on Killion’s legislation, Committee Chair Representative Matt Baker said Governor Wolf has indicated his support of the measure.
Yesterday, a House amendment was added to require the Department of Health (DOH), in consultation with the statewide professional organizations for physicians, nursing homes, professional nurses, emergency medical system and health care facilities to develop and publish a voluntary non-opioid directive form that may be used by a patient to deny or refuse the administration or prescribing of an opioid drug by a practitioner. The voluntary non-opioid directive form must be in a downloadable format on the DOH website.
“I’m pleased that the governor and the legislature recognize the serious impact of opioid abuse in communities throughout this state,” Sen. Killion said. “We need to have people properly trained in the areas of pain management and prescribing practices. Our response to the heroin and opioid epidemic continues to evolve. As such, we need to evolve our curricula being taught in our medical training facilities. Training in certain areas, such as pain management, is a pivotal first step.”
According a recent report by the Drug Enforcement Administration, nearly 3,400 drug-related overdose deaths were reported in Pennsylvania in 2015, an increase of more than 23% over 2014. In approximately four out of five of those deaths, the presence of heroin or at least one opioid was reported.
“Nearly half of all young people who inject heroin surveyed in three recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin, showing some proof to the research that pain medication may actually open the door to heroin use,” Killion said.
“My legislation will ensure that future medical professionals are trained in prescribing opioids safely and effectively. I am hopeful the Governor signs it immediately.”
CONTACT: Krista Hair (717) 787-4712