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Bill to Study Methadone Deaths Clears State House, DiGirolamo Says

HARRISBURG – Rep. Gene DiGirolamo’s (R-Bucks) legislation that will seek to find out more about deaths related to methadone passed the House today.


House Bill 140 calls for methadone death and incident review teams in cases where methadone was either a primary or secondary cause of death. The review team will be part of the new Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, which was enacted into law last year and will exist as of July 1.


“Having methadone death review teams in place will allow the Commonwealth to be able to collect information necessary to find out how and why an individual taking methadone has died,” said DiGirolamo, chairman of the House Human Services Committee. “Right now, there are still so many unanswered questions with respect to methadone, and nationwide, the incidents of methadone-related deaths are climbing. Without this legislation, I fear that cases will only continue to increase and we will be left with many more mysteries.”


Methadone is used to treat addiction to opiates and is being prescribed in growing numbers by doctors to treat pain.


House Bill 140 will allow the department to thoroughly review cases and find out if weaknesses occur in state laws with respect to methadone use or clinics with authority to dispense the substance. Under the bill, the review team must adhere to strict confidentiality laws to protect the privacy of the patient. In addition, a report from the review team will be submitted back to the House Human Services Committee, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and the Judiciary Committees of both chambers.


The proposal is expected to have no financial impact on the Commonwealth.


The legislation, which was voted 197-0 on Monday, now goes to the state Senate for consideration.


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State Representative Gene DiGirolamo

18th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Jennifer Keaton



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