Last Updated: Jun 13, 2019
Two bills introduced during Pennsylvania’s current legislative session have the potential to harm those suffering from substance use disorder (SUD) by limiting physicians’ ability to treat patients effectively.
On June 10, 2019, the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) sent letters to legislators opposing bills on:
- Licensing Suboxone/Buprenorphine Prescribers
- Add Narcan/Naloxone Usage to Patient’s Record in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)
How These Bills Could Harm Patient Care
Licensing Suboxone/Buprenorphine Prescribers (SB 675)
This bill would require state licensure – including a license fee – for Suboxone/buprenorphine prescribers and set limits on the use of buprenorphine.
In a joint letter to Pa. Senate members, PAMED and the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society said that SB 675 as currently written has the potential to deny lifesaving, evidence-based medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to patients suffering from opioid addiction.
With opioid addiction and overdoses at crisis levels state- and nationwide, now is not the time to create additional barriers for physicians who wish to offer MAT to patients. PAMED and PaPS are interested in working with legislators to find a viable alternative to SB 675 that would ensure patients can get the treatment they need.
Adding Narcan/Naloxone to the PDMP (House Bill 1005)
This bill would require that the administration of Narcan/naloxone by emergency responders or medical professionals be added to the patient’s record in the Pa. PDMP. It would also require the reporting of details such as the suspected or confirmed drug involved in the drug overdose event within 72 hours after the event was reported.
PAMED’s letter asked Pa. House members to vote ‘no’ on HB 1005. While PAMED and legislators share the goal of identifying controlled substance overdose events, we believe that this bill could hinder physicians’ ability to care for patients. For example:
- The bill would require emergency physicians to provide information such as identity and a patient’s medical details that is frequently not available during the time in which care is being delivered, especially during acute encounters.
- The legislation calls for identification of the substance that caused the overdose, information which is often contingent upon toxicology studies that can take days or weeks to be completed.
- A first responder or hospital emergency department would be required to obtain clinical information that may not be available, especially within the 72-hour reporting requirement.
The Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians (PACEP) also opposes HB 1005 and shared their concerns with lawmakers in this letter sent on June 5, 2019.