Legislation to combat “pill mills” approved by the House of Representatives
HARRISBURG – In his continuing fight against the growing drug problem in our state, chairman of the House Health Committee, Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) this week had his legislation to combat “pill mills” approved in the House of Representatives.
“Pill-mills” is a term to describe any doctor, clinic or pharmacy prescribing or dispensing controlled substances inappropriately or for non-medical purposes. These people and businesses are a dangerous contributing factor to the opioid problem in our state, which is why Baker has authored legislation (House Bill 1043) that would require pain management clinics to register with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and be subject to specific requirements.
“Currently, pain management clinics are not regulated or required to register with any entity in the state,” said Baker. “Regulating health care providers and clinics that prescribe pharmaceuticals based on medical need, rather than financial gain, is critical to addressing opioid addiction. Right now, these pill mill locations are unlicensed and uninspected facilities. They advertise themselves as pain management centers, but the prescribers onsite do not routinely have the medical training in a pain management subspecialty.”
Baker also noted that according to a recent report, 27 percent of people who abuse prescription pain medications receive them from a doctor. Also, four out of five recent heroin users have previously abused prescription pain relievers first.
It is Baker’s hope that by introducing this very important legislation, it will help prevent the diversion, misuse and abuse of controlled substances. Currently, 11 states have enacted “pill mill” legislation and more than 35 states are currently considering similar legislation.
According to an article in the American Journal of Public Health, “Although these laws are relatively new, a growing evidence base suggests that pill mill laws work to reduce overdose deaths.”
“Drug abuse is impacting every region of the state and the time to act is now,” said Baker. “A research brief by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council recently highlighted that Northcentral Pennsylvania – an area I represent – saw the state’s largest percentage-wise growth in hospitalizations for heroin overdoses, with a 509 percent increase. This is cause for alarm and a clear call for action to combat this scourge that is ripping apart families and taking more and more lives every day.”
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association supports this legislation. House Bill 1043 now goes to the state Senate for consideration.