LCHM Winter18 - 17
L C M E D S O C .O R G
OPIOID ABUSE EPIDEMIC
BY THE PENNSYLVANIA MEDICAL SOCIETY
e've all heard about the opioid
abuse crisis facing the nation in
the news, and Pennsylvania has
been hit particularly hard. Consider
IN THE NATION:
There were about 64,000 drug overdose deaths
in 2016 (higher than peak car accident deaths,
peak HIV deaths, and peak gun deaths) - Up
22% from 2015.
Drug overdoses are expected to remain the
leading cause of death for Americans < 50.
14,400 overdose deaths between 2000 and
2016 involved prescription opioids.
4,642 drug-related overdose deaths were reported
in 2016, opioids found in 85% (25% of which
The increase in drug-related overdose deaths
between 2015 and 2016 was larger in rural
counties (42 percent) compared to urban
counties (34 percent).
The drug-related overdose rate was 36.5 per
100,000 people, national average 16.3 per
100,000. Seventy-eight percent of counties
had overdose death rates higher than the
Many stakeholders, such as the Pennsylvania
Medical Society (PAMED), various state
departments, and county and specialty medical
societies, are working together to address the
crisis in Pennsylvania.
WHAT'S BEEN DONE?
In 2016, PAMED created its Be Smart. Be Safe.
Be Sure. program to help educate patients about
the safe use of opioids and the warning signs of
addiction and help physicians prescribe opioid
drugs with more precision and less potential for
abuse. Learn more and get resources at www.
The state has worked with stakeholders such
as PAMED and other provider associations to
create specialty-specific voluntary prescribing
guidelines. Find them on PAMED's website at
PAMED members can get crosswalks of how
PA's PDMP compares to bordering states' systems as well as other information on the PDMP
such as querying requirements for prescribers
and dispensers at www.pamedsoc.org/PDMP.
PAMED, working with other stakeholders,
created two educational series designed for
physicians. They can also help physicians meet
the new opioids education requirement for
licensure/license renewal. Find the education
on PAMED's website at www.pamedsoc.org/
PAMED continues to advocate on behalf of
Pennsylvania physicians and patients to help
In August 2016, the state launched the Preensure that any opioid-related legislation takes
scription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).
a common sense, patient-centered approach.
Since its launch:
PAMED's Opioid Advisory Task Force contin
The PDMP has about 97,000 registered users
ues to collaborate on topics such as education,
searching about 1.1 million patients per month.
the use of naloxone, drug collection boxes,
opioid-related legislation, and the PDMP.
The number of patients who went to 5+
prescribers and 5+ pharmacies in 3 months
A standing order for naloxone - an opioid-reverfor Schedule II drugs decreased by 86 percent
sal drug - was signed by Pennsylvania Physician
in the first year.
General Rachel Levine, MD, in 2015. Since
that time, more than 3,800 opioid overdoses
The number of youth who received prescriphave been reversed by naloxone in Pennsylvania.
tions for painkillers decreased 30 percent in
the first year.
And, it doesn't stop there. Addressing the
opioid abuse crisis continues to be a priority
The PDMP is currently sharing data with 15 for PAMED.
other states and Washington, D.C.
The PDMP can now integrate with electronic
health records (EHRs) and pharmacy management systems of all eligible health care entities
in Pennsylvania. For more information and to
sign up, visit www.doh.pa.gov/pdmp.
Learn more and access resources from PAMED at www.pamedsoc.org/OpioidResources.
WINTER 2018 | Lehigh County Health & Medicine 17