Enhanced Rx Drug Database Will Save Lives

October 27, 2014

District Attorneys thank Governor Corbett for signing measure to fight back against Rx and heroin abuse

Harrisburg, PA – After Governor Tom Corbett signed S.B. 1180 (Vance, R-Cumberland) into law today, Pennsylvania went from having the second weakest prescription drug monitoring programs in the nation to one of the strongest. Considered one of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association’s (PDAA) top legislative priorities this session, the enhanced measures are expected to help health care professionals and law enforcement fight back against the commonwealth’s growing instances of prescription drug and heroin abuse.

“This legislation will be a major player in addressing the epidemic of addiction,” said PDAA President and Union County District Attorney D. Peter Johnson.  “We thank Governor Corbett for signing the bill and sending a strong message that Pennsylvania is committed to saving lives.”

Pennsylvania currently ranks 7th in drug mortality rate nationally, up from fourteenth. In 2011, Pennsylvania had 2,298 drug-related deaths; and in the past five years there were 3,000 heroin or opioid-related deaths.  Four out of five recent heroin initiates (79.5%) have previously used prescription pain relievers non-medically.

PDAA also thanked the legislative champions of the bill: Senators Pat Vance and Shirley Kitchen and Representatives Matt Baker and Florindo Fabrizio.  “We are so thankful for the sensitivity and leadership these members of the legislature showed during the long, and often delicate path this bill had to take to become law,” Johnson said.

S.B. 1180 aligns the state’s prescription drug database with best practice recommendations by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Law enforcement will have access to data base information only if it obtains a court order whereas most other states only require an active investigation.  Penalties for unlawful access and release of information in S.B. 1180 mirror the penalties provided for by HIPPA.