How the Wolf Administration is Battling Prescription Opioid Abuse (VIDEO)

By: Jeffrey Sheridan, Press Secretary

August 31, 2016

The prescription opioid crisis is the most significant public health crisis facing Pennsylvania.

These are the facts:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, prescription opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. have quadrupled since 1999.
  • In 2014, U.S. physicians wrote 240 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers.
  • Last year over 3,500 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdose – that is an astonishing 10 deaths a day and up from the more than 2,500 reported deaths in 2014.

This epidemic is affecting people all across the commonwealth – young and old, rural, urban, and suburban. We need everyone – government officials, medical professionals, and the recovery community – to work together to ensure that we prevent others from falling victim to substance use disorders.

Learn more about prescription opioid abuse from Temple University Center for Substance Abuse Research leaders:

Governor Wolf has made battling the opioid epidemic his top priority. Here are some of the recent steps the Wolf Administration has taken to make sure we are doing everything we can to reverse this trend:

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

Last week the Pennsylvania Department of Health went live with the newly re-designed Prescription Drug Monitoring Program that will allow prescribers and dispensers to query and report information regarding the number of opioids prescribed, and to whom. The goal of the prescription drug monitoring program is to assist health care professionals with prescribing and dispensing medications safely and referring identified patients to treatment.

Opioid Prescribing Guidelines

The administration recently announced new prescribing guidelines for the safe and effective use of opioids in order to reduce the pattern of over-prescribing painkillers that have such a high risk for abuse. These guidelines will help fight back against opioid abuse and heroin use before those habits even begin. These guidelines have been adopted by the State Board of Medicine, the State Board of Pharmacy, and the State Board of Dentistry, the State Board of Geriatric Pain, State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, and the State Board of Ob-Gyns.

Prescription Drug Take-Back Program

Under the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Program’s leadership, Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Program is helping communities properly dispose of unused and unwanted prescriptions. To date, there are nearly 450 take-back boxes located at police stations across Pennsylvania. In 2015, more than 56,000 pounds of prescription drugs were taken back and destroyed.

Centers of Excellence

In addition, the 2016-2017 budget provided funding to implement 45 centers of excellence (COE) throughout the commonwealth that will treat nearly 11,000 people with substance use disorder. These centers will work with the victims of SUD to make sure they get the comprehensive, holistic treatment they need to beat their disease. These centers will be the first stop for people looking for adequate and effective treatment.

Substance use disorder affects people all across the commonwealth and that is why the search for effective solutions enjoys broad bi-partisan support. Governor Wolf will continue to fight to make sure Pennsylvanians have the resources we need to get our arms around this crisis.

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