Physician General and Department of Aging Chief Medical Officer Address Opioid Addiction in Older Pennsylvanians

Saturday, April 22, 2017 General News
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Event Highlights the Need to Use Prescribing Guidelines for Geriatric Pain

READING, Pa., April 21, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Physician General Dr. Rachel

Levine and Department of Aging's Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Galinsky today visited Senior LIFE Reading to discuss the opioid epidemic's effects on older Pennsylvanians and how the safe prescribing guidelines for geriatric pain will save lives.

"It's crucial that seniors suffering from chronic pain have treatment options that give them alternatives to opioids," said Dr. Levine. "Opioid abuse or addiction can affect anyone, even older Pennsylvanians. I thank Senior LIFE Reading for partnering with the Wolf Administration and our efforts to end the opioid epidemic."

According to a recent John Hopkins University study, Americans 65 years of age or older make up 13 percent of the total United States population, yet they take approximately 33 percent of all prescription drugs.

"Chronic pain in the elderly has been estimated to be as high as 57 percent," said Dr. Galinsky. "These prescribing guidelines help ensure that the medical community is equipped to best serve the needs of older Pennsylvanians, while aiding in the fight to end the devastating opioid epidemic."

The Wolf Administration holds the fight against heroin and prescription opioids as a top priority.  In order to continue the battle against the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf included the following proposals in his 2017-18 budget:

  • Expanding access to life-saving naloxone by providing $10 million through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to first responders, law enforcement, and other public entities across the commonwealth;
  • Maximizing federal Cures Act funding, which includes $26.2 million in each of the next two years for Pennsylvania, to expand access to treatment services, particularly for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured; and
  • Providing $3.4 million to expand specialty drug courts to expand treatment strategies that divert offenders into more meaningful treatment and recovery.

Some of the administration's other initiatives to fight the opioid epidemic include:

  • Establishing a new law limiting the amount of opioids that can be prescribed to a minor and to individuals discharged from emergency rooms to seven days to seven days;
  • Strengthening the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) so that doctors are required and able to check the system each time they prescribe opioids and benzodiazepines;
  • Forming new prescribing guidelines to help doctors, including geriatricians, who provide opioid prescriptions to their patients;
  • Creating the warm handoff guideline to facilitate referrals from the emergency department to substance abuse treatment;
  • Educating and encouraging seniors to properly use, store and dispose of unused prescription medications through Drug Take-Back initiatives;
  • Increasing the availability of naloxone; and
  • Designating Centers of Excellence, central hubs that provide navigators to assist those with opioid use disorders with behavioral and physical health care, along with medication-assisted treatment, as needed.

If you or someone you know is suffering from the disease of addiction, call 1-800-662-HELP or visit for treatment options. For more information on the fight against opioid abuse in Pennsylvania, visit the Department of Health website at or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACTS: April Hutcheson, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.govDrew Wilburne, Aging, 717-705-3702   


To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health

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