Washington, DC- As Pennsylvania deals with a heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) pushed for passage of legislation that would put a new, robust federal plan in place to combat opioid abuse. The Casey-backed bill would include new training for prescribers, grants for states to educate residents on the dangers of opioids and prescription drug abuse, and the creation of a national registry to track opioid deaths.
“Heroin and prescription drug abuse have taken a significant toll on Pennsylvania’s communities and families. Passing this legislation will put in place a robust and coordinated plan to tackle this type of drug abuse,” Senator Casey said. “Addiction is a terrible disease and it’s something that should bring Democrats and Republicans together on a commonsense approach. I’m hopeful we can come together on this legislation during 2014.”
Pennsylvania has the third highest rate of heroin abuse in the country, and the 14th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States. The majority of drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania are from prescription drugs, and the number of deaths has increased dramatically over the last 15 years. This means that too many people are falling victim to either prescription drug abuse or heroin abuse, and some people will switch between the two based on what they can find and what they can afford. A report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration last year indicated that teens and adults who used prescription painkillers nonmedically were 19 times more likely to have gone on to use heroin within the last year. Additionally, four out of five new heroin users are individuals who had previous abused prescription painkillers.
The Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2013 seeks to combat the growing abuse of prescription opioids through:
- New training requirements for practitioners registered to prescribe or dispense methadone or other opioids.
- Creating a grant program to states and non-profit entities to conduct consumer education on opioid abuse, including methadone abuse.
- The establishment of a Controlled Substances Clinical Standards Commission, which, among other things, would develop appropriate and safe dosing guidelines for all forms of methadone.
- The establishment of a National Opioid Death Registry, as well as a Model Opioid Treatment Program Mortality Report for use by state and local governments.