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Measure to cut painkiller abuse moves forward in Pennsylvania Legislature |

Measure to cut painkiller abuse moves forward in Pennsylvania Legislature

Legislation to require practitioners to prescribe narcotic painkillers electronically is on its way to the state Senate.

House Bill 353 received the full support of the House on Tuesday. The bill would require all prescriptions for Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances to be transmitted directly to pharmacies.

The bill aims to prevent fraud or theft by updating a law from the 1990s that requires opioid prescriptions to be handwritten. Electronic, fax and over-the-phone prescriptions are already used for some medications.

Electronic prescriptions are a “simple, common-sense thing to do” to cut down on fraud and to help stem the opioid abuse epidemic, said Rep. Tedd Nesbit, R-Mercer County, the bill sponsor.

The proposal says practitioners would not need to adhere to e-prescribing rules in certain circumstances, including under technology outages, when an out-of-state pharmacy is filling the prescription or when the patient is being treated in an emergency department or health care facility where e-prescribing would cause an untimely delay in treatment.

Nesbit said e-prescribing would also mean prescription information would go directly into the state’s prescription drug-monitoring database.

Westmoreland County saw a spike in drug overdose deaths in 2016, and the trend is expected to continue in 2017, officials say. Roughly 70 percent of heroin users start out using prescription drugs, according to the attorney general’s office.

Kevin Zwick is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2856, [email protected] or via Twitter @kevinjzwick.

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