PA Governor Declares Opioid Crisis ‘Disaster Emergency,’ Waiving Regulations


HARRISBURG (WSKG) — Governor Tom Wolf has declared Pennsylvania’s opioid addiction epidemic a “disaster emergency.” Usually, that designation is reserved for things like floods or hurricanes. This is the first time a Pennsylvania governor has used it for a health issue. The move is designed to let the state cut through red tape to address the opioid crisis more quickly. Pennsylvania currently has the fourth-highest rate of addiction-related deaths in the country, and while many states are starting to see their rates level off or begin to fall, the commonwealth’s are rising.

PA Governor Set To Declare Opioid Epidemic A Disaster Emergency

Governor Tom Wolf is expected today to declare the heroin and opioid crisis in Pennsylvania a statewide emergency. He will use his authority to proclaim a disaster emergency, which is is normally reserved for cleanup and relief efforts after natural disasters or storms. READ FULL STORY HERE.


Steuben County Pursues Legal Action Against Big Pharma Over Opioid Epidemic


Steuben County plans to join the chorus of municipalities filing lawsuits over the opioid epidemic. The county legislature gave the unanimous go-ahead to pursue the lawsuit on Monday. Steuben is targeting major pharmaceutical companies and large prescribers. Large prescribers could mean places like hospital systems.  The decision came after the public urged legal action at forums in Bath, Corning and Hornell. The county population is relatively small, but still had 16 overdose deaths last year.  “The number is staggering in comparison to what we were looking at even five years ago.


Supervised Injection Site Discussed At Tompkins County Legislature


Advocates for a site where heroin users can safely inject in Ithaca brought their case before the Tompkins County legislature this week. The only operational supervised injection sites in North America are in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. There are none yet in the U.S.   Ithaca advocates, principally Dr. William Klepack, said injection sites help reduce the number of overdose-related deaths. Since supervised injection is illegal in New York state, however, one of the legislators’ main questions to advocates was what could be the next steps for supervised injection sites in Ithaca?   An answer to that came from the former Tompkins County district attorney.


Why Are So Many New York Counties Suing Big Pharma Over The Opioid Crisis?


ITHACA (WSKG) – Back in the ‘90s, states sued big tobacco to pay for the costs of caring for smokers. Now, New York state counties, including Broome, are trying to sue big pharma over the opioid crisis. And Tompkins County is weighing whether it wants in.   It’s pretty attractive. It’s free for the counties because their lawyers just get a cut of the winnings.   But, Tompkins County must decide if it’s worth the time and manpower to provide information for a county lawsuit — or just join a potential statewide suit.   After a day in felony drug court, Todd Livingston stood on the front steps of the Tompkins County Courthouse in Ithaca. He’s a defense lawyer and said half the cases in the court are opioid-related.


PA’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Turns One Year Old

HARRISBURG (WSKG) — One of the root causes of opioid addiction is over-prescription of addictive drugs. A major reason it occurs is the practice of doctor shopping–when people visit five or more prescribers in hopes of getting drugs.  Pennsylvania–along with a number of other states–is attempting to stop doctor shopping by requiring prescribers use a statewide drug monitoring program, which lets them consult a database before handing over opioids or certain anti-anxiety medications. The catalogue uses doctors’ input to track patients who may be shopping around. If a doctor shopper is identified, they’re given an option for treatment–a process known in the health industry as a “warm handoff.” The commonwealth’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program just hit its one-year anniversary, and Acting Health Secretary Doctor Rachel Levine said its impact has been encouraging.