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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: September 15, 2022 10:43 AM
From: Representative Michael H. Schlossberg
To: All House members
Subject: Helping County Jails Establish and Expand their Medication for Opioid Use Disorder Programs
The opioid epidemic is far from over and is only getting worse. The Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General reports that approximately 14 Pennsylvanians die every day from an overdose; this number is expected to rise each year. In the U.S. prison population alone, roughly 65% of individuals who are incarcerated have an active substance use disorder (SUD). However, less than 1% of prisons and jails across the country offer a Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) program. The leading cause of death for individuals released from prison or jail is fatal drug overdose, yet research shows that inmates who receive MOUD are 75% less likely to die from an overdose.
Act 80 of 2015 established the Nonnarcotic Medication Assisted Substance Abuse Treatment Grant for county jails who want to offer naltrexone (e.g., Vivitrol) to inmates experiencing SUD. While this medication has been helpful and lifesaving in treating these individuals, it is not as effective as other forms of MOUD and still requires the individual to detox. Further, only 16 out of 62 (26%) of Pennsylvania’s county jails offer naltrexone while 9 out of 62 (15%) do not offer any form of MOUD.
County jails want access to all FDA-approved and expert-endorsed forms of MOUD, such as buprenorphine and Sublocade, the long-acting injectable medication form of buprenorphine. However, they are unable to access Act 80 grant funds to allow for other forms of MOUD due to legislative stipulations that limit the medication to naltrexone. To allow for better access to life-saving treatments, I am introducing legislation that would open Act 80 for county jails to utilize all FDA-approved medications for the treatment of SUD.
Our State Correctional Institutions offer all forms of MOUD for their inmates and have seen record levels of success in lives saved and decreased recidivism rates. It is time we provide the same amount of aid to our county jails. Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation to support incarcerated Pennsylvanians struggling with an addiction.