Senators Call for Increased Education in Pain Management, Opioid Prescribing Practices

HARRISBURG – Two state Senators have introduced legislation to require Continuing Medical Education (CME) training for those professionals licensed to prescribe in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 1202, introduced by Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) and Senator John Wozniak (D-35), is intended to help stem the tide of opioid and prescription drug abuse in the state, which often leads to heroin use.

The bill requires state licensing boards to call for two hours of CME in “pain management” and two hours of CME in “opioid prescribing practices” for individuals applying for an initial license or renewal of an existing license or certification in the Commonwealth.

“The increased use of heroin, which often has roots in the abuse of prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, has catapulted Pennsylvania to seventh in the nation for drug-related overdose deaths in recent federal statistics,” according to Yaw.  “We are also aware that approximately 80 percent of heroin addicts can trace their addiction back to prescription opioids.  Senate Bill 1202 would incorporate pain management and opioid prescribing practices within existing curricula requirements for medical prescribers, and as a portion of the total continuing education required for biennial renewal.”

According to a National Survey of Primary Care Physicians, nine out of 10 doctors reported prescription drug abuse as a moderate to large problem in their communities, and 85 percent believed that prescription drugs are overused in clinical practice.

“The legislation will help keep the focus on addressing the heroin epidemic by requiring additional training in pain management and opioid prescribing practices,” Wozniak said. “It is clear that our ability to deal with heroin addiction requires maximum effort and energy in a variety of areas.  An excellent way to stop the heroin from spreading is through the implementation of sensible practices and policies that come from more education about opioids.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2015 reported that heroin overdose deaths in the United States, fueled by lower heroin prices and the increased abuse of prescription opiate painkillers, nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013. According to the CDC, reversing these trends will require a wide-ranging response from multiple partners, from improving opioid prescribing practices and expanding access to effective treatment, to working with law enforcement to disrupt the heroin supply, to increasing the use of medications, such as naloxone, to reverse drug overdoses.


Rita Zielonis (Sen. Yaw)

Josh Myers (Sen. Wozniak)