Gov. Wolf Seeks To Limit Opioid Medication Prescribed To Minors

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Gov. Wolf Seeks To Limit Opioid Medication Prescribed To Minors

Gov. Tom Wolf announced today that he is against the mass prescribing of opioid medication to children and young people. He wants to avoid more cases in which a child “throws their knee out in field hockey and becomes addicted to opioids.”

Furthermore, he support legislation introduced last week, which would prohibit physicians from giving a minor more than a week’s worth of opioid medication. Moreover, “seven [days of opioids] I think would be an appropriate cap.”

Wolf:

“We lost 3,500, almost, Pennsylvanians last year [to drug overdoses], and it looks like more than that will die this year. This is a plague, and we’ve got to stop it.”

Yesterday, new data also revealed that the number of newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome (opioid exposure in the womb) has increased by nearly tenfold in just 15 years. Last year alone. Over 2,600 babies in Pennsylvania had conditions related to substance use, and 4 of 5 of those had NAS.

Wolf is looking to sign several measures by the end of year aimed at making a dent in the opioid epidemic. Indeed, a bill that could be voted upon today would effectively ban medical providers from prescribing more than a week’s supply of ANY opioids to minors, with few exceptions. More than a week’s worth would require an assessment of the young person’s mental health and substance use history, and a discussion of the risks with parental guardians.

In the past, Wolf has spoken on a number of priorities. For example, he wants medical schools to teach better painkiller prescribing practices, as a condition of state funding. He also wants physicians to take updated courses on the prescribing of opioids every two years.

He wants to encourage physicians to check the patient’s drug history before prescribing an opioid. This past summer, Pennsylvania became the 49th state to implement a prescription drug monitoring program, in which physicians can do just that.

He also supports proposals to limit prescriptions by emergency physicians to a weeks worth of painkillers, again, with a few exceptions.

Wolf:

“We just want to make sure that no one is doing anything to get a patient — and I believe no one in the medical profession wants this to happen — to feed a substance use disorder unnecessarily.”

Finally, he wishes to make opioid education in schools compulsary, and require insurers cover abuse-resistant painkillers.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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