CARLISLE, PA — The Wolf Administration recently met with the Cumberland-Perry County Drug & Alcohol Commission’s Task Force on Opiate Prescribing to discuss the latest data regarding the opioid crisis and the Opioid Command Center’s response.
“Our Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has played a key role in reducing the number of opioids prescribed and eliminating doctor shopping,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “The total number of patients who were prescribed high dosages of opioids has decreased by 46 percent, and we have seen an overall drop in opioid prescriptions by 30 percent as we continue to work to prevent the disease of addiction in Pennsylvania. Treatment works and recovery is possible for those affected by opioid use disorder.”
The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has interstate data-sharing abilities with prescribers and pharmacists in 22 states, the District of Columbia and the Military Health System. Each month, approximately 1.7 million dispensation records of controlled substances are collected by the program.
Within the Department of Health, the Patient Advocacy Program is a point of contact and resource coordinator for patients prescribed controlled substance medications who abruptly lose access to care. The program also is working with patients to learn more about concerns related to the prescribing of opioids and other controlled substances, access to prescriptions, and barriers to finding a doctor.
The Wolf Administration’s work to address the opioid crisis focuses on three areas: prevention; rescue; and treatment. The Opioid Command Center, established in January 2018 when Gov. Wolf signed the first opioid disaster declaration, meets every week to discuss the opioid crisis. The command center is staffed by personnel from 16 state agencies and the Office of the Attorney General, spearheaded by the departments of Health and Drug and Alcohol Programs.
Data shows that in 2018, more than 4,400 people died from a drug overdose. This represents an 18 percent decrease in drug overdose deaths from 2017. 2019 data is still being finalized at this time
Efforts over the past four years, working with state agencies, local, regional and federal officials, have resulted in significant action to address the opioid crisis. Recent efforts include:
- Distributing nearly 14,500 kits of naloxone through public distributions at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and in September 2019 and December 2018..
- The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has reduced opioid prescriptions by 30 percent and has virtually eliminated doctor shopping.
- The Opioid Data Dashboard and Data Dashboard 2.0 is providing public-facing data regarding prevention, rescue and treatment.
- The waiver of birth certificate fees for those with opioid use disorder has helped more than 3,700 people, enabling easier entry into recovery programs.
- A standing order signed by Dr. Rachel Levine in 2018 allowed EMS to leave behind more than 2,300 doses of naloxone.
- More than 6,000 health care professionals have been visited and provided training on how to prescribe opioids cautiously and judiciously.
- 813 drug take-back boxes help Pennsylvanians properly dispose of unwanted drugs, including 482,000 pounds of unwanted drugs in 2018.
- The Get Help Now Hotline received more than 31,000 calls, with nearly half of all callers connected directly to a treatment provider.
- The state prison system has expanded their Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, which is viewed as a model program for other states.
- More than 100 licensed physicians or prescribers have been disciplined for wrongful practice over the past two years.
- Several agencies have worked together to collaborate on the seizure and destruction of illicit opioids across Pennsylvania.
- The coordination with seven major commercial providers has expanded access to naloxone and mental health care, while also working to make it more affordable.
- Naloxone has been made available to first responders through the Commission on Crime and Delinquency, with more than 25,000 doses made available and more than 4,500 saves through that program. In addition, EMS have administered more than 31,000 doses of naloxone.
For more information on Pennsylvania’s response to the opioid crisis visit www.pa.gov/opioids.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health
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