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Opioid-related legislation will crack down on pain pill prescriptions in Pa.

State lawmakers passed several bills to help control opioid use in the commonwealth

Physicians in Pennsylvania are facing stricter guidelines for prescribing opioid pain pills.

This week lawmakers passed five opioid-related bills, which are now on their way to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk for a signature, the governor said Thursday.

A signing date has not yet been confirmed, according to spokesperson Jeffrey Sheridan.

The bills that passed will restrict how many opioid pain pills physicians can prescribe to minors, as well as provide guidelines for physicians to follow before issuing a prescription to minors.

Physicians will also have to check Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program every time they prescribe a patient opioid pain pills, no matter the patient’s age or medical history.

The state’s prescription drug monitoring program went live in August, and it was developed to track opioid pain pills and other controlled substances to better control the misuse and over-prescribing of addictive medications.

Another update to the monitoring program that passed this week will require pharmacies to enter opioid prescription data within 24 hours of filling the prescription, instead of the 72 hour window the current law allows for.

Physicians can also expect more safety training when it comes to prescribing opioids, both those in training at medical colleges and doctors who are currently practicing.

The package of bills passed this week will also limit the quantity of opioid pain pills that can be given to patients in the emergency department.

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, or HAP, said it stands ready to help implement the package of bills passed by legislature this week.

“Opioid abuse has scarred Pennsylvania’s communities, and it is causing irreparable damage to individuals and families,” said HAP President and CEO Andy Carter. “The steadfast commitment by the General Assembly and the Governor to end the opioid crisis is reflected in their bipartisan, comprehensive approach to taking on this complex issue.”

Wolf held a joint session of the General Assembly at the start of the fall session, pushing lawmakers to pass opioid legislation now, because the state is currently facing drug-related deaths of epidemic proportions.

“Today, I applaud the legislature for working with me to pass a package of bills that allows us to take another important step in fighting this issue that plagues all of our communities,” Wolf said.

He added that other efforts are also happening at the state level, such as funding several opioid addiction treatment centers across the commonwealth for Medicaid patients.

“While this is not the end of our efforts on this crisis, or many other important issues facing the commonwealth, we have made great progress and I look forward to signing these bills into law,” Wolf said.

Aside from opioid legislation, the General Assembly worked on several other bills before closing out its 2015-2016 legislative session.

Lenay Ruhl

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