Opioid Plague Is on Leaders’ Minds

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PSTATE SEN. Sharif Street makes point at top-level conference on opioid addiction convened by Gov. Tom Wolf at Temple University Hospital. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Gov. Tom Wolf legislators, local leaders, and medical professionals together at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine’s Center for Substance Abuse Research to address governmental concerns on how to more effectively fight the state’s opioid epidemic.

“Ensuring that Pennsylvanians have access to the mental-health and substance-use care they need is a priority for my administration. Every day, we lose 10 Pennsylvanians to the disease of opioid addiction and 3,500 Pennsylvanians lost their lives in 2015 alone,” said the Governor. “I applaud Temple University for recognizing that substance use disorder is a disease, not a choice and I want to thank them for doing their part in battling this epidemic.”

“It’s time we treat this like the true epidemic it is,” said Temple University President Richard M. Englert. “We need to mobilize our efforts similar to what we would do for an infectious disease. The Temple model does just that.”

In late September, Wolf addressed a joint session of the General Assembly to outline a set of shared, specific legislative goals that would help tackle the opioid and heroin crisis. Together with Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate, Wolf made a commitment to prioritize helping the victims of substance use disorder and the communities that have been devastated by this terrible disease.

During the fall session, the governor and legislators made significant achievements toward fighting this epidemic by passing five major bills strengthening the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program by restricting the number of pills prescribed to minors in emergency rooms, establish education curriculum on safe prescribing, and create more locations for the drop-off of drugs among other important initiatives.

Pushing against the epidemic is Auditor Gen. Eugene DePasquale who is auditing the Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs and similar agencies to determine the effectiveness of their drug-treatment initiatives.

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