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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: February 4, 2016 11:42 AM
From: Representative Doyle Heffley
To: All House members
Subject: Abuse Deterrent Opioids
Last session, I authored House Resolution 659 which created a task force and advisory committee under the direction of the Joint State Government Commission to analyze the epidemic of opioid abuse in PA and to present a report to include recommendations to combat the proliferation, illicit use, and abuse of opioid prescription drugs in Pennsylvania. This spring, that report, entitled The Report of the Task Force and Advisory Committee on Opioid Prescription Drug Proliferation, was published and included several recommendations for the Commonwealth to consider in addressing the contributors and consequences of opioid abuse.

Within the recommendations of the report were directions that the General Assembly enact legislation that would support parity of health insurance coverage among alternative opioid medications; one of these alternatives being abuse-deterrent formulations. Abuse-deterrent opioids are pharmaceutical products that have been recently developed that contain abuse-deterrent properties and are designed to be harder to crush, cut, dissolve or inject.

In the near future, I will introduce legislation to require that insurance plans provide access to abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic drugs, and apply cost-sharing provisions for these products at the same level as the cost-sharing applied to other brand name and generic drugs covered under the insurance plans’ formularies.

Many of us have voiced our desperation in the battle against prescription drug abuse. While not a panacea to solve this troubling epidemic, improving access to abuse-deterrent opioids, as my legislation will do, is an important tool in combating prescription drug abuse. The FDA considers the development of abuse-deterrent opioids to be a high public health priority; Pennsylvania can bolster these public health efforts by making sure Pennsylvanians have adequate access to these products. It is imperative that we seek to ensure that patients suffering from chronic pain get the relief they need while also minimizing the potential for harmful consequences, including costly visits to emergency rooms and the ancillary costs to society, such as law enforcement costs, and even death.

Please join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.

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Introduced as HB1698