Senate Approves Bills to Address Heroin/Opioid Crisis

Senator Pat Stefano (R-2) today thanked Governor Wolf for highlighting the need for legislative action on the opioid crisis in his address to a joint session of the legislature.

Over the past five years, more than 3,000 heroin-related overdose deaths have been identified in Pennsylvania,” Stefano said. “We need to work together to tackle this deadly epidemic head on and help those who are addicted to get treatment and recovery, so more lives aren’t lost.”

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania began holding public hearings to examine and discuss current policies and practices related to heroin and opioid addiction, including prevention, treatment and law enforcement efforts.

To date the Center has held 12 hearings across the state, received 60 hours of testimony and issued two reports that have resulted in action by the Senate to address the issue including recently passing Senate Bill 1202, which Stefano supported. The bill requires continuing medical education training for physicians in pain management and dispensing and prescribing practices of opioids and awaiting action in the state House of Representatives.

Prior to the Governor’s address the Senate passed the following bills addressing the heroin epidemic:

  • Senate Bill 1367, sponsored by Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), would limit the amount of opioids that may be prescribed for minors.  The bill includes exceptions for cases involving chronic pain, cancer treatment or for palliative care or hospice care.  Additionally, the bill requires a health care professional to obtain written consent from a minor’s parent or legal guardian to prescribe a medical treatment containing opioids, and provide information on the risks of addiction and dangers of overdose associated with the medication.
  • Senate Bill 1368, sponsored by Senator Tom Killion (R-9), would implement Safe Opioid Prescribing Curriculum in all of Pennsylvania’s medical schools.  The plan calls for a focus in four key areas including pain management; multimodal treatments for chronic pain that minimize the use of opioids, or when opioids are indicated, to prescribe them in a way that is safe and that follows guideline-based care; focusing on 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.
  • Senate Bill 1212, sponsored by Senator John Wozniak (D-35), would establish the School Aged Children Opioid Awareness Education Program. The Departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Education will be required to work cooperatively to design a request for proposals for organizations that can provide opioid awareness education programs to be delivered in schools.

“All areas our Commonwealth are all seeing the devastating impact of heroin and opioid abuse,” Stefano said. “It touches every corner of our Commonwealth and devastates families in every county. The Senate will continue to seek legislative answers that will provide our communities with the tools they need to fight this epidemic.”

Benjamen Wren
Chief of Staff
Office of Senator Pat Stefano
Pennsylvania’s 32nd Senatorial District

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