Human Services Committee OKs Bill for Methadone Death Review Teams, DiGirolamo Says

Legislation that will help the Commonwealth collect data and study the incidents and details of methadone deaths unanimously passed the new House Human Services Committee today, said Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), chairman of the committee and author of the proposal. 

House Bill 140, which has bipartisan support, calls for the establishment of a methadone death and incident review team 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. 

“The creation of methadone death review teams will allow the department to collect data and study the issues of methadone and cases where an individual has died,” DiGirolamo said, noting that two incidents of methadone-related deaths occurred in his district in Bucks County.  

“Nationally, the incidence of methadone-related deaths is climbing – rising nearly 10 times in the past decade – but here in Pennsylvania, we do not have the structure in place to obtain information,” he said. “This legislation will correct that and 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.” 

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

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 legislation, which passed the House Health and Human Services Committee with overwhelming support last fall, is expected to have no financial impact on the Commonwealth.  

House Bill140 will now be sent to the full House for its consideration. 

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

Contact:  Jennifer Keaton