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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 1, 2019 12:37 PM
From: Representative Johnathan D. Hershey
To: All House members
Subject: Opioid Patient Treatment Agreements

In the near future I plan to introduce legislation to further address the Commonwealth's opioid epidemic to require new patients who need a prescribed opioid regime to enter into treatment agreements with a prescriber to ensure patients understand the risks of addiction and dangers of overdose associated with the medication and their role and responsibilities regarding their treatment. A provision of the treatment agreement would require new patients to undergo baseline drug testing to establish a general assessment of the new patient and periodic drug testing as deemed medically necessary by the medical prescriber in order to monitor adherence to existing patient treatment plans.

Baseline drug testing performed by a prescriber to identify aberrant behavior, undisclosed drug use and/or abuse and verification of compliance with treatment would be conducted in accordance with recommendations issued in the Commonwealth’s April 2018 revised Prescription Drug Guidelines for the Treatment of Chronic Pain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2016 Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain and at the prescriber's discretion.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) most recent report estimated that there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths that occurred in the United States in 2017. Alarmingly, Pennsylvania ranked 3rd in the nation in terms of the overdose deaths reported.

The DEA Philadelphia Division and the University of Pittsburgh’s September 2018 report supported the CDC’s findings and stated that Pennsylvania experienced 5,456 drug-related overdose deaths in 2017 and were reported at a rate of 43 deaths per 100,000, far exceeding the national average of 22 per 100,000 in 2017.

But the opioid epidemic does not only impact the user, it impacts the whole family. Recent statistics from Grandfamilies.org show that 103,000 children in Pennsylvania live with a relative with no parent present and more than 88,000 grandparents are householders responsible for their grandchildren who live with them. Unfortunately, these numbers are rising as the opioid epidemic continues. Enacting public policies, like the legislation I intend to introduce, is necessary to address the Commonwealth's opioid crisis and to protect the health, safety and welfare of affected citizens and children in Pennsylvania.

No doubt the opioid crisis requires a multi-faceted approach and this legislation is another piece to that puzzle. Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1740