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Legislation to Create Pharmaceutical Registry to Be Focus of Hearings, DiGirolamo Says
6/6/2011

Legislation that would help prevent the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs will be the subject of two public hearings in Harrisburg in June, said Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), sponsor of the proposal and chairman of the House Human Services Committee, which is holding the hearings. 

“We’re hearing more in news reports about individuals so desperately seeking prescription medications to feed their addictions that they’re visiting doctors and pharmacies just to get prescriptions, sometimes for dangerously addictive drugs,” said DiGirolamo, who is an outspoken advocate against drug abuse. 

Specifically, the proposal would create a database, to be managed by the new Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, to enable informed and responsible prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances and to reduce diversion and misuse of the drugs of concern. The intent of the bill is to pinpoint the potential for abuse and misuse of prescription drugs, namely those that are highly addictive controlled substances like pain relievers. 

DiGirolamo emphasized that the bill encourages treatment for the people who are identified as having an addiction problem. It also provides for continuing medical education for prescribing health care providers to learn more about identification, referral and treatment of addiction. 

He also pointed out that Pennsylvania’s rate of overdoses is among the highest in the nation. 

DiGirolamo encourages people who are interested in learning more about the bill to attend or watch the two days of public hearings. They are scheduled for 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the state Capitol in Harrisburg on these dates: 

  • Thursday, June 16, Room 140, Main Capitol.
  • Thursday, June 23, Room G-50, Irvis Office Building. 

“This legislation is about prevention by helping to save lives of people who might overdose on prescription medication,” DiGirolamo said. “We do not want to interfere with the appropriate use of medicine for people who need it.” 

DiGirolamo believes that by creating an online registry of pharmaceutical disbursements, doctors and pharmacists can keep track of dangerous prescription drugs and be alerted if someone is suspected of “doctor shopping” or “pharmacy shopping.” The practice occurs when people seeking drugs go to several doctors or pharmacies who do not know their medical histories and might be more inclined to arbitrarily prescribe medications. 

The registry would allow a doctor or pharmacist to look at a secure website to find out if a patient they’re treating or filling a prescription for recently obtained a similar prescription from another doctor or pharmacy. 

“I am hopeful that this legislation, if enacted, would help to discourage doctor and pharmacy shopping – both for the individual seeking the prescriptions and doctors and pharmacies writing and filling the prescriptions,” he said. “I am looking forward to these hearings to shed more light and public awareness on this growing problem, and how other states are addressing the issue.” 

The proposal is part of a national effort to monitor the abuse of prescription drugs and ensure that laws around the country are appropriate and in place to prevent such abuse. In total, 47 other states are monitoring prescriptions in some way now, and the U.S. government is likely to support interstate communication in the near future. The bill has language to allow communication among states so Pennsylvania can also help people who live near a border with another state, many of whom seek treatment in the other states near their residence.  

The hearings will be streamed live on DiGirolamo’s website at GeneDiGirolamo.com.  

State Representative Gene DiGirolamo
18th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Jennifer Keaton
jkeaton@pahousegop.com
717.705.2094
Facebook.com/GeneDiGirolamo

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