Proposed Legislation in Pennsylvania: Senate Bill 1349

by Devin Motley
Regulatory Counsel

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Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1349 introduced 10/12/16 would make Pennsylvania the latest state to limit opioid prescriptions. There are three key points to the legislation:

Seven-Day Limitation

As a general rule, medical professionals “may not prescribe to an individual more than a seven-day supply of a controlled substance containing an opioid.” If a prescriber in their medical judgement decides to prescribe more than a seven-day supply they will be required to take numerous steps including documenting the acute medical condition requiring a greater prescription and indicating why a non-opioid alternative is not appropriate.

Initial Prescriptions

Before issuing the first prescription of an opioid, a medical professional shall do all of the following:

  • Assess whether the individual is taking prescription drugs for a substance abuse disorder
  • Discuss the risks of addiction and overdose, and the dangers of taking the controlled substance with alcohol other central nervous system depressants
  • Obtain written consent for the prescription from the individual

Consent

The legislation also requires the Department of Health to develop a consent form to be used when an opioid is prescribed. This consent form is to be separate from other medical release documents and will contain specific information regarding the type and quantity of the opioid being prescribed, a statement that all matters mandated by this section have been discussed, and must be signed by the individual consenting to the medical treatment.

The consent portion of this legislation is of special interest and should be commended. Simply putting a prescribing limitation in place will help limit the amount of controlled substances that a patient can receive, but requiring the doctor to have an open, documented, and certified conversation about the dangers of the controlled substance will ensure patients actually receive and comprehend the true risks of opioids.

The Pennsylvania legislature will reconvene in January 2017 to take action on this legislation.