Senators Hold Opiate Abuse Hearing In Pittsburgh
Two Pennsylvania senators convened a field hearing on opiate abuse Thursday at Allegheny General Hospital in an effort to jumpstart support for a bill filed in July.
Republican Pat Toomey, head of the Senate finance subcommittee on health care, and Democrat Bob Casey Jr. fielded questions from an audience of more than 100 people.
Pennsylvania has one of the country’s highest rates of prescription drug overdose. Last year, more people in the commonwealth died from overdose than they did from car accidents, according to testimony presented Thursday.
“This is a problem and a challenge for our country that knows no geographic or political boundaries. This affects all of us, all of our communities in one way or the other,” Casey said.
Patients should be made aware of the dangers of prescription medications like oxycodone, Toomey said.
“To help providers know the panoply of medications a patient is taking, I think there needs to be broader usage of robust prescription drug monitoring programs," he said. "Making them inter-operable across state lines is particularly important for people who live near state lines. And it will help physicians as well as law enforcement to spot diversion and abuse.”
Toomey introduced Senate Bill 1913, the Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act, in July. Ideally, it would potentially curb some of the rampant abuse of prescription medication, he said. No summary is available online, and the bill has been stalled in the finance committee since its introduction.