Easton, PA - 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 prescription drug abuse. The Casey-backed bill would include new training for prescribers, establish grants for states to educate residents on the dangers of prescription drug abuse and promote safe medication disposal. Senator Casey was joined by District Attorney Morganelli of Northampton County and Mayor Panto of Easton.
“Families throughout the Lehigh Valley are experiencing the challenges that come with having a loved one suffer from addiction. It’s critical Democrats and Republicans come together on a commonsense approach that aids these individuals and their families,” Senator Casey said. “I’ll be urging Congress to come together this year on this legislation and other initiatives that can help communities throughout Pennsylvania that are dealing with an increase in prescription drug and heroin abuse.”
The Increasing The Safety Of Prescription Drug Use Act can reduce prescription drug misuse and abuse by better monitoring existing prescriptions and referring potentially addicted patients to needed treatment.
- Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) - Prescribers shall check state PDMPs before writing opioid prescriptions, dispensers shall enter opioid prescriptions filled, and PDMPs shall be tied into electronic prescribing and electronic health records and interoperable across state lines for accurate, timely and confidential information.
- Training - Prescribers with DEA registrations shall attest to continuing medical education. A HRSA grant program to allow states to evaluate state boards’ review and consideration of expanding prescriptive privileges for advanced practice nurses and physician’s assistants for PDA control with specific drugs (e.g. buprenorphine), as appropriate with state scope of practice rules.
- Practice - Health care prescribers shall increasingly conduct appropriate patient screening for potential drug misuse or abuse. An HHS grant program to increase training for behavioral screening, referral and brief intervention for treatment.
- Pilot Project – This one-year pilot would provide grants to states to develop a standardized peer review process and methodology to review and evaluate prescribing and pharmacy dispensing patterns, through a review of PDMPs in those states.
- FDA Review of Naloxone – FDA will be required to review the status of naloxone (a drug that can reverse a heroin overdose) as a prescription drug, and consider whether or not it would be appropriate to make it available behind-the-counter, but without a prescription.
- Drug disposal - HHS shall encourage states and counties to increase ongoing opportunities for proper medication disposal.
- GAO Report – GAO will study prescription drug abuse programs and policies in federal agencies and best practices regarding states’ programs in this area, and make recommendations to Congress on ways to reduce prescription drug abuse.