Governor Wolf Urges Passage of Pending Legislation to Combat Opioid Epidemic Amid Disaster Declaration

January 29, 2018

Harrisburg, Pa. – Amid the 90-day Opioid Disaster Declaration, Governor Wolf today urged the General Assembly to consider a set of pending bills aimed at furthering the declaration’s key initiatives and messages.

Several pieces of legislation were passed recently, including Sen. Tom McGarrigle’s legislation allowing the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to regulate recovery houses that receive federal, state, or county dollars and serve individuals in recovery from substance use disorder. That bill was signed by Governor Wolf in December.

“I encourage the legislature to make passage of these bills a priority. And I thank the General Assembly for passage of recent legislation and those lawmakers who have taken the initiative to draft new legislation. I commend them for sharing my commitment to help even more Pennsylvanians fight the disease of addiction and look forward to continuing our work together to combat this crisis.”

Pending and new legislation includes:

Senate Bill 472, introduced by Sen. Yaw, is a priority as it limits prescriptions for a controlled substance containing an opioid to seven days unless there is a medical emergency that puts the patient’s health or safety at risk.

Senate Bill 391, the administration is collaborating with the legislature on a comprehensive amendment to this bill introduced by Sen. Jay Costa, which would amend the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Control Act to reflect mandatory evaluation and treatment provisions included in the Mental Health Procedures Act (MHPA), allowing an individual to be subject to mandatory evaluation and treatment if the individual has a substance use disorder and is incapable or unwilling to accept voluntary treatment and the individual presents an imminent danger or imminent threat of danger to self or others within the past 30 days.

Senate Bill 978, introduced by Sen. Lisa Baker, allows home health and hospice staff to dispose of unused prescription medication following a patient’s death. Currently, those medications are the property of the patient, and when they die their possessions become part of their estate and cannot be disposed of by non-family. When these medications are opioids, the chance could increase that family members might abuse or sell them.

House Bill 353, introduced by Rep. Tedd Nesbit, requires that prescriptions for Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances be completed electronically to reduce the risk of tampering or forgery.

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