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Bill package places limitations on opioid prescribing


Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a package of bills late Wednesday aimed at curbing opioid addiction in the state by making it more difficult for emergency room doctors to prescribe the powerful painkillers, among other proposals that aim to strengthen existing laws. 

The legislation package awaits the approval of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, who issued a statement Thursday applauding the changes.

“We still have more to do, but working together we have now accomplished strengthening the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, restricting the number of pills that can be prescribed to minors or in emergency rooms, establishing education curriculum on safe prescribing and creating more locations for the drop-off of drugs, among other important initiatives,” Gov. Wolf said in the statement. 

A spokesperson for Gov. Wolf told Business Insurance that the governor plans to sign the bills into law in next week, but that it was not clear when the laws would go into effect. 

The Safe Emergency Prescribing Act, or House Bill 1966, would prohibit hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers from prescribing opioids for longer than seven days and bans refills for opioid prescriptions. Patients with acute conditions, such as cancer, can receive opioids from emergency room doctors to treat pain, but only if the doctor finds that an alternative pain medication was not appropriate, according to the bill. 

Senate Bill 1202 requires continuing education for medication prescribers and dispensers related to pain management, addiction and dispensing, and also requires prescribers to check the state prescription drug monitoring database every time they prescribe an opioid or benzodiazepine. The bill would mandate that medical providers enter prescription data to the database within 24 hours of dispensing medications, compared with 72 hours under current state law. 

Three other bills passed by the Pennsylvania legislation include requirements such as providing addition and pain management training at medical schools, restricting the ability to prescribe to minors and allowing certain facilities to serve as drop-off locations for unused prescription drugs, according to bill language posted online.





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