Kids shouldn’t be prescribed bottles full of addictive opioids, says Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, adding to his legislative to-do list ahead of a major speech today on the overdose epidemic, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Saying he doesn’t want more cases in which a young person “throws their knee out in field hockey and becomes addicted to opioids,” the governor swung behind new proposed legislation that would bar prescribers from giving a minor more than a week’s worth of the painkillers.
“We lost 3,500, almost, Pennsylvanians last year [to drug overdoses], and it looks like more than that will die this year,” said Wolf, who has made the fight against opioids a central focus of his administration. “This is a plague, and we’ve got to stop it.” Newly released data showed that the incidence of newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome — opioid dependence driven by exposure in the womb — has increased nearly tenfold in 15 years. Last year, 2,691 newborns in the state had substance-related conditions, of whom 82 percent had neonatal abstinence syndrome. “So these poor [newborns] are going to be incredibly expensive for us to care for, and it’s a completely preventable problem,” said Dr. David B. Nash, dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health, at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “There’s no telling today what the downstream implications and the social costs are.” Today Wolf will address a joint session of the General Assembly, in hopes of signing, by year’s end, around a half-dozen measures aimed at curbing the opioid problem.