Governor Wolf Announces Pennsylvania Ranks Second in Nation for Reduction of Opioid Prescriptions

June 07, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that Pennsylvania had the second largest percent change for all 50 states in opioid prescriptions between 2016 and 2017, according to data released by IQVIA.

Prescriptions for opioids in Pennsylvania decreased by 14 percent in 2017, just behind New Hampshire with a 15.1 percent decline. The number of opioid prescriptions in Pennsylvania decreased from 9,496,052 in 2016 to 8,163,730 in 2017. This decrease is attributed to numerous initiatives introduced since Governor Wolf took office, including an increase in the use and accessibility of the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).

The expansion of access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) included access to other commonwealth departments for clinical decision-making purposes, numerous local and state departments, and neighboring states that are all now connected to and accessing Pennsylvania’s PDMP. To date, there have been more than 15 million searches using the PDMP and 97,000 prescribers, dispensers, and their delegates have registered to use the program. In addition, 16 different states and Washington, D.C. currently have access to the PDMP’s interstate data-sharing ability which allows prescribers and pharmacists to see if patients have filled controlled substance prescriptions in these states.

Additionally, the efforts of the Opioid Command Center, a multi-agency initiative put in place as part of the governor’s heroin and opioid disaster declaration, first announced in January and continuing in its second 90 days, are geared to help continue to reduce opioid prescriptions, among other goals.

“This great news among so much difficult news associated with the heroin and opioid crisis is heartening and affirms the dedicated efforts of many state agencies and advocates, and I thank everyone involved for their contribution to this very favorable ranking for Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said.

At the governor’s direction, the Command Center agencies have established a core set of initiatives aimed at prevention, education, and treatment of opioid use disorder, including reducing barriers to treatment along with the increased use and access to the PDMP.

Governor Wolf has announced progress of the Opioid Command Center since the disaster declaration in January and second 90-day renewal in April, including waiving prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment, an initiative that according to the AMA is critical to the success of a reduction in opioid prescriptions.

Because getting people into treatment is critical in this crisis, Pennsylvania waived fees for birth certificates for individuals with opioid use disorders, allowing them faster access to treatment and benefits. To date, 242 birth certificates have been expedited through this process to help get people into treatment faster.

In addition, the administration waived annual licensing requirements for high-performing drug and alcohol treatment facilities and have already seen 196 eligible facilities apply for and receive two-year licenses, ensuring continued, high-quality treatment for Opioid Use Disorder sufferers.

Another major initiative of Governor Wolf’s disaster declaration is the creation of the Opioid Data Dashboard to help the public gain access to information about what resources are available locally, and where those resources need to be deployed. Since its launch, there have been nearly 20,000 visits to the dashboard, which can be viewed here.

“I am pleased to see Pennsylvania ranked second in the reduction of opioid prescriptions,” Gov. Wolf said. “It’s confirmation that the progress we are seeing is making a difference in this difficult and ongoing epidemic. It is my hope that this positive news further spurs efforts and attitudes towards solving this crisis, which we know will take time and the continuation of the concerted effort we have in place in Pennsylvania.”

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