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THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC

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​The prescription opioid and heroin overdose epidemic is the worst public health crisis in Pennsylvania.  It affects Pennsylvanians across the state, from big cities to rural communities. The Department of Health is committed to being part of the solution by working with Governor Wolf to provide the following programs:

PRESCRIPTION DRUG MONITORING PROGRAM

To help prevent prescription drug abuse and protect the health and safety of our community, Pennsylvania's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PA PDMP) collects information on all filled prescriptions for controlled substances. This information helps health care providers safely prescribe controlled substances and helps patients get the treatment they need.

STANDING ORDER (PRESCRIPTION) FOR NALOXONE

Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine has signed updated standing order prescriptions for naloxone.  The updated standing orders include the 2mg dose auto injector which has recently become available. You can find a link to the updated standing orders below. Learn more about naloxone.

Patient Non-Opioid Directive 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health non-opioid directive allows patients to formally communicate that they do not wish to receive opioid medications as a part of their treatment plan. The non–opioid directive helps prescribers and patients begin a dialogue of substance use history and look at alternative methods of treatment. In addition, the directive may prevent inadvertently offering certain controlled substances to those who could be adversely affected.  

warm handoff 

Warm handoff is an approach where a health provider does a face-to-face introduction to a substance abuse specialist and makes a direct referral into substance abuse treatment. Similar to a heart attack patient who, once stable in the emergency department, would receive a facilitated referral to a cardiologist, opioid use disorder patients should receive similar treatment. 

PRESCRIBING GUIDELINES FOR PHYSICIANS AND PRESCRIBERS

Working with the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, DOH developed and adopted guidelines for ten medical specialties on the safe and effective use of opioids in the treatment of pain. 

CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS

The Pennsylvania Medical Society, the Hospital and Health System Association, the Pharmacists Association and the other specialty societies have developed a continuing education series that is available online.  The modules are available on the PA Medical Society website.