Scarnati, who circulated a co-sponsorship memo today, explained that he intends to introduce legislation to provide for better utilization of FDA-approved medications for the prevention of relapse for individuals with an opioid dependence.
“Unfortunately the drug epidemic is becoming more widespread in all parts of Pennsylvania, particularly in our rural areas of the state,” Scarnati said. “We must make sure that we are doing all that we can to combat this growing problem and protect our communities.”
According to Scarnati, his legislation will be a continuation of efforts to prevent and treat drug abuse. Currently, Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation behind California and Illinois for heroin use, the most commonly cited drug among drug treatment admissions in Pennsylvania.
“The Center for Rural Pennsylvania recently released a report summarizing the findings of four statewide hearings held to examine the growing numbers of heroin and opioid related deaths and arrests across Pennsylvania,” Scarnati said. “Senator Yaw who serves as Chairman of the Board for the Center has done an outstanding job bringing this issue to light. The hearings have made it clear that education, availability of treatment and providing law enforcement with needed resources will help eradicate heroin from our communities.”
Scarnati also emphasized that earlier this week, Act 139 by Senator Pileggi, was signed into law, to provide Good Samaritan protections from prosecution for lower-level drug violations for someone who helps an overdose victim. In addition the legislation, supported by Scarnati, allows for greater availability of the drug naloxone which has proven extremely successful in saving the lives of those who overdose from opioids.
“Recent passage of Act 139 of 2014 was a tremendous accomplishment to help prevent heroin related deaths,” Scarnati said. “However, we must continue to fight to stop all types of opioid drug abuse across our Commonwealth. Individuals who have a drug problem very clearly need treatment.”
Scarnati explained that his legislation will also help provide education and training to law enforcement officials regarding non-narcotic, non-addictive FDA approved medications for the treatment of opioid dependence, ensure access to these medications and require a multiple county jail re-entry project utilizing effective comprehensive treatment, case management and non-narcotic medication.
“This Fall and in the upcoming legislative session I look forward to engaging in discussions with my colleagues in the legislature and experts in the drug prevention field as we work together to try to save lives.”