Pennsylvania Gov. Declares Opioid Epidemic a Public Health Emergency

The Pennsylvania state capitol building.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has declared the opioid epidemic in the state to be a public health emergency.

Despite the significant efforts that have been made by the state government to mitigate the effects of the opioid crisis, including making the live-saving opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone available to all Pennsylvanians, the heroin and opioid epidemic continues to claim lives.

Fortunately, the declaration of a public health emergency will open up new avenues for combating the opioid epidemic.

The announcement was made at a news conference on Wednesday, January 10. The declaration of a public health emergency comes after the Keystone state has already implemented a number of programs to stymie the spread of addiction, including new guidelines for the prescription of opioids.

By declaring a public health emergency, the Wolf Administration will be able to expand and expedite the access citizens have to addiction recovery treatment. The declaration will also allow the administration to better organize local data on the opioid epidemic, thus improving the coordination of emergency response teams, and creates a Opioid Operational Command Center to guide the effort at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Governor Wolf’s declaration highlights 13 key strategies to help turn the tide of addiction, including increased access to naloxone, filing fee waivers for individuals who face administrative or bureaucratic roadblocks that obstruct their access to adequate substance abuse recovery treatment, and a state-of-the-art pilot program based around a cutting-edge body scanner.

One of the most significant elements of Governor Wolf’s plan is facilitation of the exchange of information, including increased access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring program. By allowing more access to the database, the goal is to ensure more commonwealth entities are able to take informed action regarding prescription related decisions.

Pennsylvania may be facing the widespread consequences of the opioid epidemic, but the Wolf Administration hopes these varied strategies will help secure victory in the ongoing battle against addiction.