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Prescription Drug Monitoring Legislation

March 30, 2014
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday reported three bills out of committee, including prescription drug monitoring legislation, said committee chairwoman Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland/York).

Senate Bill 1180, sponsored by Vance, expands the state’s prescription drug monitoring program to include all drugs up to and including Schedule V controlled substances. Currently, the Pennsylvania Attorney General houses a monitoring program with dispensing data for Schedule II controlled substances. To address some concerns, the bill was amended to limit data referral to law enforcement or a licensing board only in instances in which there is a pattern of irregular data deviating from the clinical standard.

“Pennsylvania’s drug overdose mortality rate in the fourteenth highest in the nation,” Vance said. “This bill will improve patient safety by preventing people from become addicted to prescription drugs and thus reduce deaths. Almost 80 percent of those who recently started using heroin said they previously abused prescription painkillers.”

The other bills approved Wednesday were Senate Bill 1267, sponsored by Vance, and House Bill 1259, sponsored by Rep. Frank Ferry (R-Bucks). Senate Bill 1267 reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment (PHC4) Council for three years. Without this legislation the council, which is an independent state agency that strives to give consumers, purchasers and providers quality comparative data for the purpose of making informed decisions, would cease to exist on June 30. House Bill 1259 regulates indoor tanning facilities. As part of the legislation, those 16 and younger would be banned from using such facilities. Minors who are 17 years old would require parental consent.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee reported out of committee Senate Bill 959, sponsored by Vance. The bill would recognize nurse anesthetists as certified registered nurse anesthetists, CRNAs, in Pennsylvania law. Currently, nurse anesthetists are the only advanced practice nursing group out of four lacking this classification. The legislation would make it easier for CRNAs to transfer from one state to another and gives them title protection for use of this designation.

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