Bill ad­dresses opi­oid epi­demic, aims to re­duce ad­dic­tion risks

The Boyertown Area Times - - LOCAL NEWS - From Se­nate

Pa­tients who re­quire opi­oid pre­scrip­tions would have less risk of ad­dic­tion un­der leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced by Sen­a­tor Ryan P. Au­ment (R-36th Dist.) on March 19.

Au­ment’s bill would re­quire pa­tients to en­ter into treat­ment agree­ments with pre­scribers to en­sure pa­tients un­der­stand the risks of ad­dic­tion and the im­por­tance of ad­her­ing to safe, re­spon­si­ble guide­lines for opi­oid use.

The treat­ment agree­ments would re­quire new pa­tients to un­dergo base­line and pe­ri­odic drug test­ing to mon­i­tor ad­her­ence to the pre­scribed treat­ment plans.

These re­quire­ments would not ap­ply in med­i­cal emer­gen­cies, to pa­tients with ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ships with a med­i­cal provider, cancer pa­tients nor those who are ter­mi­nally ill.

Au­ment said that the drug test­ing re­quire­ment would help pre­scribers iden­tify prior drug use and ver­ify that pa­tients are stick­ing to the pre­scribed treat­ment plan and not abus­ing pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions.

“Many of to­day’s ad­dic­tion prob­lems re­sult from le­gal pre­scrip­tion use that even­tu­ally spi­rals out of con­trol,” Au­ment said. “Set­ting clear guide­lines for pa­tients and pre­scribers can help pro­tect against the mis­use of opi­oids so we can stop ad­dic­tion be­fore it starts.”

Au­ment’s leg­is­la­tion is built from rec­om­men­da­tions con­tained in the guide­lines for pre­scrib­ing opi­oids for chronic pain in the United States which were is­sued by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion as well as Penn­syl­va­nia’s guide­lines on the use of opi­oids to treat chronic non-cancer pain.

Each of those au­thor­i­ties, in ad­di­tion to a re­port from the Gen­eral As­sem­bly’s Joint State Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion is­sued in Fe­bru­ary, cited the value of de­tec­tion and di­ag­no­sis as a key strat­egy to help­ing ad­dress the grow­ing opi­oid epi­demic.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the prac­tice Au­ment is pro­mot­ing has been en­dorsed by the United States De­part­ments of De­fense and Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, and is al­ready a pol­icy used by sev­eral health care in­sur­ers, in­clud­ing Cap­i­tal Blue Cross, High­mark Blue Shield and Wel­lS­pan Health.

“Sadly, there is no ‘sil­ver bul­let’ to solve all of the prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with the opi­oid epi­demic. It is a com­plex prob­lem that must be ad­dressed from every an­gle,” Au­ment said. “This leg­is­la­tion is an­other piece in the puz­zle to pre­vent more pa­tients from fall­ing vic­tim to ad­dic­tion as a re­sult of le­gal pre­scrip­tions that are mis­used.”

The fed­eral Drug En­force­ment Agency re­ports that the to­tal num­ber of fa­tal drug over­doses in Penn­syl­va­nia rose 37 per­cent from 2015 to 2016. On av­er­age, 142 Amer­i­cans die every day from a drug over­dose, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

“Opi­oid ad­di­tion and its re­lated is­sues are a clear and present dan­ger to our peo­ple, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties,” said Au­ment. “The se­ri­ous­ness of this is­sue de­mands that we do all that we can, and it is my hope that this pro­posal will of­fer an­other part of the so­lu­tion.”

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