Licenses for Prescribing Narcotic Proposed by Bucks Lawmaker

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A state lawmaker from Bucks County introduced legislation Wednesday that would strengthen Pennsylvania’s oversight of prescriptions for the powerful narcotic Suboxone.

The drug, also known as Buprenorphine, is often used by people recovering from addiction to opioids like heroin and Oxycontin.

State Rep. Geno DiGirolamo, a Republican from Bensalem, said earlier this March that federal oversight exists for the drug, but state regulation is lacking.

“Buprenorphine/Suboxone has become a drug that is abused, misused and is now out of control here in Pennsylvania,” DiGirolamo wrote in a letter to other lawmakers March 9. “We must work to control diversion of Buprenorphine/Suboxone and assure that it is utilized only in conjunction with drug and alcohol addiction treatment licensed by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.”

The district DiGirolamo represents is at the crossroads of some of the nation’s largest drug trafficking routes, according to local and federal law enforcement. Bensalem, in particular, has been a popular meeting place for traffickers who serve dealers in Philadelphia and New York City, officials say.

To pay for Pennsylvania oversight and regulation of the narcotic, DiGirolamo’s legislation calls for an annual $10,000 fee for prescribers who receive licenses. The bill also requires establishment of penalties for failure to adhere to the new licensing.

Across Pennsylvania, opioid addiction is ravaging big cities like Philadelphia as well as suburban towns and rural areas. Gov. Tom Wolf has declared the rising number of overdose deaths across the state as an epidemic.

NBC10 helped raise awareness of the opioid crisis with its Emmy-winning special, “Generation Addicted,” in March 2016. Online coverage accompanying the television special shows the wide range of people affected.

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