Pennsylvania Governor announces multi-disciplinary approach to combat opioid epidemic
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro addressed his administrations efforts to combat the opioid crisis across the state during a news conference Tuesday morning in Philadelphia.
According to Governor Shapiro, 300,000 Pennsylvanians struggle with addiction, and 15 people die everyday in the state from drug overdoses.
Governor Shapiro announced a multi-disciplinary approach to battle the drug epidemic in Pennsylvania.
Multi-disciplinary approach to battle the drug epidemic in the state by scheduling Xylazine as a schedule 3 narcotic, and nitazene as a schedule 1 narcotic.
Xylazine is a powerful tranquilizer used for veterinary purposes, and has never approved for human use. Overdose reversal drugs do not work on Xylazine because it is not an opioid.
In 2017, Xylazine was responsible for about 90 overdose deaths a year, in 2022, it contributed to over 620 overdose deaths, an increase of nearly 700% in the last five years.
Nitazene, a novel synthetic opioid, has never been approved in the United States for human use, and has resulted in 5 overdose deaths in the past year.
Scheduling drugs allows for tighter controls, security and record keeping requirements to help keep them out of the community. Manufacturers will now have to add additional checks to verify drug recipients are verified purchasers before receiving the drugs.
There will also be tighter requirements around the delivery of the scheduled drugs, and scheduled drugs must be stored in locked facilities.
It also allows for law enforcement to charge users, and prosecutors the ability to charge people found with those drugs if they wish to do so.
Governor Shapiro said that scheduling these drugs is only the first step in the multi-disciplinary approach to address the opioid epidemic in his state.
"We need to bring enforcement, prevention and treatment together in order tackle this crisis. Drug addiction is disease, not a crime," said Governor Shapiro.
During his time as Attorney General, Shapiro brought $2.2 billion for treatment and prevention related services. In February, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs awarded $9 million in grants to support counties mental health and substance abuse programs.
"I believe substance use disorder is a disease not a crime, and people suffering from it deserve better access to treatment, and better treatment in their communities," said Shapiro.
For Pennsylvanians seeking substance use treatment can call 1-800-662-4357, or can visit treatmentatlas.org to access treatment in your area.