HARRISBURG – In helping to prevent even more loved ones from becoming victims of the statewide epidemic of prescription drug addictions and overdoses, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), chairman of the House Human Services Committee and a leading advocate for drug and alcohol addiction treatment, called on the state attorney general today to investigate and address the proliferation of prescription opioids in Pennsylvania. “Across the country and the Commonwealth and right in our very own communities, people are dying from prescription drug overdoses,” said DiGirolamo, who was joined by a number of treatment experts, loved ones of overdose victims and advocates. “We do not have to look far to see the escalating numbers of people dying from overdoses of pain killers and other opioids. Sadly, more and more of us are being touched by this epidemic.”
More Americans now die from painkillers than from heroin and cocaine combined, and since 2008, prescription drug-induced deaths have outstripped those from automobile accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC
“Even more tragic is the startling fact that the manufacturers of these prescriptions are profiting from this epidemic, and until those who produce these drugs and profit from their use are held accountable, there is no incentive for these companies to be socially responsible and bring an end to these senseless and tragic overdoses,” DiGirolamo said.
In his fight to address the epidemic, DiGirolamo has authored a House resolution calling on the Office of Attorney General to investigate the financial impact of this proliferation, which includes the costs to the emergency health care, criminal justice, law enforcement and addiction treatment systems.
DiGirolamo is also asking the Office of Attorney General to develop a plan to recover damages to the Commonwealth from drug manufacturers and distributors and to establish the Pennsylvania Opioid Recovery Fund to fund treatment of addiction to prescription and other drugs.
Opioid analgesics are involved in more drug poisoning deaths than any other drug. In fact, prescription opioid overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2007, with the distribution of prescription opioids increasing 627 percent in a 30-year time span.
In addition, admissions to addiction treatment for prescription drug pain relievers, including prescription opioids increased 430 percent from 1999 to 2009, with chronic, non-medical use of prescription opioids increasing 75 percent over the past decade.
DiGirolamo addressed the personal and emotional cost of opioid prescription drug overdoses and deaths and the destruction of families. “Our prisons are overcrowded with inmates with addiction-related offenses and our cities and neighborhoods are under siege by drug-fueled crimes,” he said.
DiGirolamo’s legislation requests that the Office of Attorney General investigate and address this epidemic by:
•Reviewing and using tools that are available to monitor, evaluate and audit the movement, prescription, sale, purchase, administration and effects of prescription opioids as they pass through online pharmacies and through all aspects of public and private supply chains and all phases of the product lifecycle.
•Reviewing incentives, financial and otherwise, that apply to participants and decision makers in public and private supply chains and health care financing systems.
•Reviewing prescribing, pricing and reporting practices, and differences among and between various public and private supply chains and health care financing systems.
•Reviewing compliance with all existing laws, regulations, orders, agreements and other legal requirements.
•Investigating and pursuing recovery of the costs of this proliferation to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its citizens.
•Establishing the Pennsylvania Opioid Recovery Fund to fund treatment of addiction to prescription and other drugs.
The resolution is expected to be introduced in the near future.