HARRISBURG – Legislation requiring medical professionals to adhere to strict guidelines when prescribing opioid medications was unanimously approved by the state Senate today, according to Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), prime sponsor of the bill.
Senate Bill 655 makes mandatory the current voluntary guidelines developed by the state’s Safe and Effective Prescribing Practices Task Force on the proper and safe prescribing of opioid-related pain medications.
These guidelines encourage the judicious prescribing of opioid pain medications in areas including, but not limited to, treating chronic non-cancer pain, emergency department treatment, dental practices, opioid dispensing by pharmacists, obstetrics and gynecology pain treatment, geriatric pain treatment, treating pregnant mothers with opioid use disorders, safe prescribing benzodiazepines for acute treatment of anxiety and insomnia, as well as prescribing in orthopedics and sports medicine. The guidelines also call for other clinical interventions prior to the initiation of opioids.
“While prescription opioids can be an appropriate part of pain management, the voluntary guidelines established by the Governor’s Task Force aim to improve the safety of prescribing and reduce the harms associated with opioids, including opioid use disorder and overdose,” Sen. Yaw said. “Having talked to many doctors in the field, it’s my opinion that mandatory implementation of these guidelines does not impose excessive barriers that will interfere with treatment. They put safeguards in place to prevent some unintended consequences.”
The Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Department of State have worked collaboratively to publish evidenced-based, specialty specific voluntary prescribing guidelines. Development of the guidelines were done in partnership with the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Pennsylvania Dental Association, Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association, and other community advocates.
“The guidelines aren’t going to fix Pennsylvania’s drug abuse epidemic single-handedly, but it is a monumental step forward,” Yaw added.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff