HARRISBURG – Legislation limiting the amount of opioids that individuals may be prescribed won bipartisan approval today in the state Senate, according to the bill’s prime sponsor Senator Gene Yaw (R-23). The bill, Senate Bill 472, addresses the increasing risk of individuals becoming addicted to opioids and heroin after being prescribed painkillers, and is one of several bills introduced by Yaw aimed at curbing the drug epidemic that has killed, on average, more than 13 people per day in Pennsylvania.
According to Sen. Yaw, the bill would limit the prescription for a controlled substance containing an opioid to a seven-day duration unless there is a medical emergency that puts the individual’s health or safety at risk. The bill also includes exceptions for cases involving acute and chronic pain, cancer treatment or for palliative care or hospice care. In those cases, the medical professional would be required to document the medical condition in the individual’s record with the prescriber and indicate the reason why a non-opioid alternative is not appropriate to address the acute medical condition.
The bill, as amended by the Senate, also includes exceptions when a patient remains in an in-patient or hospital setting and when a prescriber is continuing a treatment initiated by another member of the prescriber’s practice.
Senate Bill 728, also approved by the Senate, would amend the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program (ABC-MAP) Act to exempt Schedule V epilepsy drugs currently included in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) querying requirement.
“While we must do everything we can to curb doctor shopping and reduce illicit prescription drug abuse, I want to ensure that we are not unintentionally hindering access to medicines without evidence of abuse for patients who rely on them on a daily basis,” Yaw noted.
“Throughout the three years of hearings by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, testifiers commented about how an oversupply of medications prescribed to individuals can be a springboard to becoming addicted to prescription opioids,” Yaw said. “By re-evaluating current prescribing practices, we take another important step in our collective efforts to rein in this heroin and opioid addiction crisis in our state.”
Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff