Legislation would track drug deaths in Pennsylvania

Legislation would track drug deaths in Pennsylvania

Legislation introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly would expand the tracking of narcotics deaths linked to the use of drugs to treat opioid addiction.

House Bill 1662 amends the state’s Methadone-Related Death and Review Incident Act to include deaths and incidents attributable to the use or misuse of federally-approved medication to treat opioid use disorder. One of the drugs is suboxone/buprenorphine.

“Increasingly, we are hearing about incidents involving overdoses of suboxone/buprenorphine from around the state,” state Rep. K.C. Tomlinson Tomlinson (R-Bucks), who sponsored the bill, said. “This problem is not unique to Pennsylvania. The federal government reports that emergency visits involving buprenorphine have increased nearly tenfold between 2005-10.”

Tomlinson said he believes the bill will help shape policy decisions regarding suboxone/buprenorphine.

The U.S. Department of Justice indicted pharmaceutical company Indivior Inc. in April for alleged deception regarding the safety and diversion risks regarding Suboxone film.

The bill also renames the act the Medication Death and Incident Review Act. It instructs the Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs of the Commonwealth to form a team to track deaths and incidents.

The bill moves to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk for his signature. If signed into law, it will take effect in 60 days.