Taking aim at Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis, Wolf signs new restrictions into law

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has signed measures aiming at the state's opioid addiction and overdose crisis. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has signed measures aiming at the state's opioid addiction and overdose crisis. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    A package of bills recently signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf takes aim at Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis.

    The measures restrict how many opioids you can get, and add more checks for prescribers.

    One law limits opioid prescriptions for patients discharged from the emergency room.

    Another requires doctors, nurses and physician assistants to check a statewide database every time they prescribe an opioid.

    Others address prescribing opioids to minors and new pain-management training for prescribers.

    No one bill stands out, Wolf said.

    “I mean we needed all of them, and I’m happy that we’ve got them,” he said. “As I say, I think I said it three times, we have more work to do, but this is a really great continuation of a journey we started a year and a half ago.”

    Many applaud the changes, but some urge caution, fearful that if it’s harder to get pills, people addicted to prescription opioids will instead use heroin.

    Wolf said he is skeptical about that.

    “First of all, they say is not a real study, and I challenge you to show one study that shows that that’s true,” he said.

    Rigorous academic studies aren’t available for such a new crisis, but Maine and Washington state both experienced an uptick in demand for heroin after limiting access to opioids.

    If prescribers encounter people who are addicted, they should refer them to treatment.

    More than 3,500 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses last year, up from 2014.

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