With 4,884 drug-related deaths in 2016, the  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows the number of drug deaths in Pennsylvania has increased by 15 percent from 2016 to 2017 (an increase of 739 deaths).  Learn more about the staggering scope of the crisis here.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is taking swift and determined action to combat the addiction crisis in Pennsylvania.

The Impact on Society and the Shaping of Legislation

Addiction impacts society, not just the individual. In the workplace, drug abuse is costing lost work and inefficiency. In neighborhoods, drug-related crime threatens residents and increases violence. We have seen parents neglect the nutritional needs and safety of their children because of their addiction. 

The legislature’s policies to prevent drug abuse and educate the public about the dangers of drug abuse are vital to curtailing the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania.  The understanding that drug abuse is an addiction that must be treated and not a question of willpower has changed the way the legislature has addressed drug abuse since the 1980s.

The House Republican Solution

Over the past several years battling the addiction crisis, which has touched every region of the Commonwealth, we have learned that there is no single solution. 

During the 2015-16 legislative session, we pushed to enact legislation recommended by the Task Force charged with finding solutions to the epidemic. We looked for solutions to stop opioids from reaching those it shouldn’t by enacting provisions for the proper disposal of unused medications (Act 123 of 2016) and prohibiting emergency providers from prescribing long-acting opioids in the ER and limiting discharge prescriptions (Act 122 of 2016).

During the 2017-18 session, we have enacted legislation to finding solutions to the crisis 
We enacted the Drug and Alcohol Detoxification Program to provide a solution to the shortage of detox beds by encouraging empty beds in health care facilities to be used for emergency detox (Act 40 of 2018
Made it clear that in addition to a child’s right to consent, parents and guardians have the right to consent for treatment of their minor child (Act 47 of 2018
Created standards for drug and alcohol recovery houses which were previously nonexistent (Act 59 of 2018
Updated school instruction about drugs and alcohol to include opioid abuse prevention, with an emphasis on the epidemic and addiction to heroin (Act 55 of 2018
Addressed the over-prescription of opioids under Worker’s Comp program by setting evidence-based standards (SB 936 *Vetoed by the Governor) 
Reducing the diversion of controlled substance into the wrong hands by requiring Electronic Prescriptions (Act 96 of 2018) of Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances
Established a Better Standard for Outpatient Commitment (Act 106 of 2018) to help assisted outpatient mental health treatment for seriously mentally ill individuals
Prohibited the sale of Dextromethorphan (Act 116 of 2018) to minors

In a strong bipartisan showing, members of the House Republican and Democratic Caucuses, along with Gov. Tom Wolf, discuss what's been accomplished and what lies ahead in combating the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania.

Related Action

House HOPE Caucus
The House has also established the PA Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education (PA-HOPE) Caucus. This bipartisan group of legislators is chaired by Rep. Aaron Kaufer and Rep. Ed Gainey.

Joint Policy Committee Hearings
As opioid crisis legislation falls under the jurisdiction of at least three standing committees, and in order to help prepare bills for the fall session, joint hearings were held across the Commonwealth in July, August and September by the House Republican and House Democratic Policy Committees. The Policy Committees will act as coordinators and work with the various committee chairs to plan the topics and hearings.