Governor Wolf Issues Disaster Declaration on Opioid Crisis

Governor Wolf Issues Disaster Declaration on Opioid Crisis

Pennsylvania suffered more than 4,600 fatal overdoses in 2016, an increase of more than one-third from the prior year. Last year, 169 died in Lehigh County and 91 perished in Northampton county. "We are hopeful that the declaration will assist in opening access to treatment for those who need it, ultimately saving more lives".

The plan permits other state agencies to access the state's prescription drug monitoring database to track the quantity of opioid pills doctors and others are issuing.

"The Office of Attorney General arrests on average more than four drug dealers a day", Shapiro said in a statement. It requires that overdoses and neonatal abstinence syndrome - the medical term applied to children born addicted to drugs - are added as reportable conditions and tracked by state and local entities. "They're far, far too common". Currently, anyone can purchase naloxone at a Pennsylvania pharmacy.

"We absolutely support this declaration as it will most likely result in streamlining procedures and protocols that will expedite treatment for individuals including medication-assisted therapy", said Barbara Gorrell, administrator of Drug & Alcohol for Columbia, Montour, Snyder and Union counties.

He waives the face-to-face requirement needed before a physician can approve addiction treatment and forgoes licensing requirements that hospitals needed to open new treatment programs. While the numbers were not finalized for 2017, McBlain said in 2016 there were about 200 overdose deaths in the county.

Synthetic drugs - like carfentanil - that are derived from fentanyl would be rescheduled to more align with the DEA schedule of narcotics.

Randy Gockley, director of the county Emergency Management Agency, said he would wait for a briefing from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency before commenting on the governor's action. The lawsuits allege the companies are partly responsible for the crisis by creating slick marketing campaigns that downplayed the risk of opioid pain killers to treat several moderate and light pain. "Our national investigation with 41 Attorneys General of the pharmaceutical industry and the opioid painkillers fueling this epidemic is ongoing and active".

The governor, a Democrat, said the declaration is "not a silver bullet" but could open the door to different measures that help to curb the opioid epidemic.

The emergency declaration will remove bureaucratic barriers for people seeking treatment for opioid addiction, Farley said.

"We mourn their losses and we try to empathize with the pain most of us cannot even begin to imagine".

"I think it can be helpful at the state level", he said.

"I'm interested in anything the governor has to add on this fight", said state Rep. Kurt Masser, R-107.

"You really need to sift through all that data to even begin to get a grasp of the epidemic", Wenrich said.

Better data collection is required under this declaration as well.

It's the first time a disaster emergency has been declared for a public health crisis in the commonwealth.

Bethlehem police officers and paramedics are already armed with naloxone, but Wenrich said her staff is now training firefighters to use naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses.

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