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Governor Wolf Renews Opioid Disaster Declaration, Notes Recent Progress

December 21, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today signed the fourth renewal of his 90-day opioid disaster declaration and noted recent successes in the ongoing fight against the epidemic.

“I am again renewing the 90-day opioid disaster declaration, the best current means we have to maintain a concerted effort focused on fighting this scourge on our state and our nation,” Gov. Wolf said. “The renewal allows the 16 state agencies working together as part of the Opioid Command Center at PEMA to continue their collaborative approach at creating and implementing initiatives that are making a difference across many areas of this battle.”

The American Medical Association earlier this week hailed Pennsylvania’s fight against opioids as a model for the rest of the country.

Last week, Pennsylvania distributed more than 6,000 free naloxone kits as part of Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week across the commonwealth.

“With 80 public health centers participating in the naloxone giveaway, thousands of Pennsylvanians now have a chance to save a life and, in effect, be part of our first responder network,” Gov. Wolf said. “EMS and law enforcement alone have reversed nearly 20,000 overdoses this past year, getting 92 percent of those revived to a health care facility and into treatment.”

The disaster declaration, which was introduced in January, and renewed in April, June and September, was set to expire this month. The renewal allows for the initiatives introduced in the past eleven months to continue without interruption.

The governor detailed progress with additional initiatives introduced as part of the disaster declaration:

  • Implemented more than 45 treatment centers (Centers of Excellence) across the commonwealth that to date have provided a level-of-care assessment for substance use disorder to more than 12,000 individuals.
  • Expanded Medicaid to more Pennsylvanians, which now covers substance use disorder care for over 125,000 Pennsylvanians.
  • Secured more than $110 million in federal grants to support prevention, treatment such as medication-assisted treatment, recovery, career services, and other programs to aid in fighting this crisis.
  • Strengthened the use of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which enables health care providers to safely prescribe controlled substances to their patients. More than 90,000 registrants are conducting more than 1.6 million patient searches each month. Since PDMP implementation, opioid prescribing has decreased by 24 percent.
  • Introduced a suspicious activity prescribing tool with Attorney General Josh Shapiro to aid in reducing illegally prescribing controlled substances and identifying people who may need to be guided to treatment for substance use disorder.
  • Announced improved prescribing guidelines for the safe and effective use of opioids, including in sports medicine, for minors, and Pennsylvanians on Medicaid, as well as improved education for medical professionals on opioid prescribing.
  • Launched a 24/7 helpline, 1-800-662-HELP, for those who need immediate assistance with drug and alcohol problems. More than 36,000 Pennsylvanians have contacted the statewide helpline for assistance.
  • Signed legislation to support grandparents raising grandchildren as a result of the opioid crisis.
  • Hosted more than 100 opioid roundtables across the state to engage first responders, treatment providers, families, and non-profit organizations to listen and learn about local community needs and what the state can do to help.

“It is critical that we keep building on our efforts at prevention, rescue, and treatment by extending the disaster declaration for another 90 days and urging the General Assembly to again take up a public health emergency when they return,” Gov. Wolf said. “We must work to ensure that my administration and local partners can continue to use every tool available to them to help people and communities in need.”

More information on the Wolf Administration’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and how people suffering from this disease can get help is here.

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