Sen. Yaw Bill Limiting Youth Opioid Prescriptions Passed in Senate

Legislation limiting the amount of opioids that children may be prescribed won bipartisan approval recently during a meeting of the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, according to the bill’s prime sponsor Senator Gene Yaw (R-Loyalsock Township).  The bill, Senate Bill 1367, addresses the increasing risk of children becoming addicted to opioids and heroin after being prescribed painkillers, and is one of several bills introduced by Yaw aimed at curbing the drug epidemic that has killed, on average, more than seven people per day in Pennsylvania.

 According to Sen. Yaw, the bill would limit the prescription for a controlled substance containing an opioid to a seven-day duration unless there is a medical emergency that puts the child’s health or safety at risk.  The bill also includes exceptions for cases involving chronic pain, cancer treatment or for palliative care or hospice care.  In those cases, the medical professional would be required to document the acute medical condition in the minor’s record with the prescriber and indicate the reason why a non-opioid alternative is not appropriate to address the acute medical condition.

 Additionally, the legislation will require a health care professional to obtain written consent from a minor’s parent or legal guardian to prescribe a medical treatment containing opioids, and provide information on the risks of addiction and dangers of overdose associated with the medication.

“Throughout the two years of hearings by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, testifiers commented about how an oversupply of medications prescribed to youth for sports injuries, or a dental procedure, was the springboard to a young person becoming addicted to prescription opioids,” Yaw said.  “In many instances, prescriptions are written for a 30 day supply. By re-evaluating current prescribing practices, especially when it affects our children, we take another important step in our collective efforts to rein in this heroin and opioid addiction crisis in our state.”

 “Drug addiction is a preventable disease and it will take a community-wide effort to address it,” Yaw added. “Young people in particular can quickly become addicted to opioids and then turn to heroin.  This legislation will ensure that these medicines are carefully controlled to avoid overuse and the potential for addiction.”

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