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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: March 9, 2017 02:20 PM
From: Representative Gene DiGirolamo
To: All House members
Subject: Licensure of Prescribers of Suboxone also known by its generic name - Buprenorphine
I plan to introduce legislation to license prescribers of Suboxone, also known by its generic name – Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine/Suboxone is used by some people who are addicted to opiate drugs such as heroin and oxycontin to assist them in beginning the recovery process.

Unfortunately, as I’m sure you are aware, Buprenorphine/Suboxone has become a drug that is abused, misused and is now out of control here in Pennsylvania. We must work to control diversion of Buprenorphine/Suboxone and assure that it is utilized only in conjunction with drug and alcohol addiction treatment licensed by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.

In February, Philadelphia newspapers reported lines “100 people deep” at a storefront in South Philadelphia where doctors were prescribing Klonopin and Suboxone. According to court filings, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Livermore wrote, “Dr. Summers and many of the other doctors employed by him abandoned the practice of medicine and simply became drug dealers.” Last year, a physician in Uniontown was also indicted for similar prescribing practices of buprenorphine. Finally, in Huntingdon over the Christmas holidays, the trading of a weapon for Suboxone led to the death of one of our state troopers.

The prescribers do receive a special license from the Federal Government that authorizes them to write prescriptions for Suboxone. However, there is currently no state oversight. My legislation aims to license the office based prescribers of Suboxone requiring that the necessary addiction counseling and treatment that is needed to accompany the medication is actually provided.

My bill will establish a fee for the licensees of $10,000 per year which will fund the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to provide oversight and licensure. The bill also requires the Department of State to establish guidelines for consequences for failure to adhere to these new requirements.

I urge your co-sponsorship of this needed legislation.

Introduced as HB932