Senate Approves Legislation to Combat Opioid Addiction Crisis


HARRISBURG – The Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved three measures aimed to address the state’s growing opioid addiction crisis, adding to bills already approved by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives.

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.

Additionally, 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.

“Addressing the opioid crisis facing our Commonwealth has been and continues to be a top priority for our Caucus,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25).  “Today the Senate has taken another positive step forward by advancing three critical bills that will further address this epidemic.  This issue has devastated far too many of our communities and individuals of all ages.”

“The passage of the three bills today shows our continued commitment to this issue,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34). “This is a complex problem that requires the recognition by each of us that opioid addiction touches all of our lives – whether directly or indirectly. Each piece of legislation builds on another to create a solid foundation upon which to build a road to recovery for our communities.”

“Each of these bills can be compared to the strands of a rope,” Sen. Yaw said.  “Each strand represents one measure to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic.  Alone, they might not be fully effective, but together they can strengthen the rope and our collective efforts to address this growing crisis.  While this epidemic did not occur overnight, I’m optimistic that by re-evaluating current prescribing practices, especially when it affects our children, we take another important step to rein in this heroin and opioid addiction crisis in our state,” Yaw added.

Legislation previously approved by the Senate and sent to the House of Representatives included Senate Bill 1202 requiring continuing medical education for doctors in the state.  The Senate also approved a Drug and Alcohol Recovery High School Pilot Program to provide instruction meeting State academic standards for students in grades 9 through 12 who are in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse or addiction. The legislation was included as part of the School Code.

Today’s action is part of ongoing efforts by the Senate to examine and address the state’s opioid crisis that includes statewide hearings and other legislative action.

Kate Eckhart – Senator Scarnati (717) 787-7084
Jenn Kocher – Senator Corman (717) 787-1377
Rita Zielonis  – Senator Yaw (717) 787-3280

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