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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 19, 2018 02:41 PM
From: Representative Rosemary M. Brown
To: All House members
Subject: Opioids and Hospice
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation giving hospice staff the authority to properly destroy unused drugs following a patient’s death.

As we are all very much aware, the opioid crisis has become a leading health concern in Pennsylvania and across the entire country. According to the Department of Health, 13 individuals are dying every day in the Commonwealth due to an opioid or heroin overdose. In 2016 alone, 4,812 Pennsylvanians died from an overdose of opioid drugs. While Pennsylvania has taken several steps to help combat this epidemic, more needs to be done.

An issue was brought to my attention more recently regarding disposal of unused drugs in hospice care. Hospice caregivers are often left with medication that requires disposal when a patient dies, however currently in Pennsylvania, hospice staff are not permitted to dispose of the unused medication, and sometimes the leftover medication ends up in the wrong hands.

In 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) adopted final rulemaking regarding the disposal of pharmaceutical controlled substances. Since then, the DEA encourages hospice staff to help families destroy leftover medications, but the agency forbids those staff members from destroying the medications themselves unless permitted by state law.

Therefore, in an effort to address this, my legislation will permit a hospice agency to dispose of unused prescription medications under certain circumstances. Several of our surrounding states, including Ohio, Delaware and New Jersey, have enacted laws giving hospice staff the ability to destroy leftover pills after a patient dies.

I hope you will join me in cosponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB2152