Ammunition in the Fight against Prescription Drug Abuse: PA Awarded $900,000 CDC Grant

Pennsylvania is one of 16 states awarded with grants for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States” initiative. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) received a $900,000 grant.

“Too many citizens of our commonwealth are dying from drug overdose, and Pennsylvania families in hardworking communities are impacted by prescription drug addiction every day,” said Gov. Tom Wolf, in a Sept. 9 announcement about the grant.

DOH plans to apply funds from the grant as follows:

  • Enhance and maximize its PDMP and promote universal registration and use. Data from the monitoring program will also be used to conduct public health surveillance, and this data will be shared with the general public.
  • Implement of community and/or insurer interventions aimed at preventing prescription drug abuse and overdose.
  • Conduct a rigorous evaluation of existing laws, policies, and regulations designed to prevent opioid overuse, misuse, abuse, and overdose to ensure that the best possible regulations are in place in Pennsylvania.

The use of a statewide, controlled substances database will be an important way for the DOH to meet its goals. In an August 2015 presentation to the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s (PAMED) Specialty Leadership Cabinet, Pennsylvania’s Physician General Rachel Levine, MD, said the state is actively working to get the database up and running, with the expectation that it will be ready sometime in 2016. The state is now engaged in the process of selecting vendors for the database.

The Prevention for States program will be evaluating each of the 16 participating states in order to monitor performance, demonstrate effectiveness, and capture success stories. Results will be used to inform decisions about future state and national efforts to prevent prescription drug overdoses.

The CDC says that collaboration will be a key component of the program. A state’s success will depend upon teamwork from the health department, law enforcement, the state PDMP, governor’s office, substance abuse treatment agencies, and other states.

A focus on collaboration is also a major part of PAMED’s efforts to combat opioid abuse in Pennsylvania. We are working closely with the state and 11 other health care-related organizations to create educational programs on topics like voluntary opioid prescribing guidelines, naloxone, the warm hand-off, and the controlled substances database.

More Tools & Resources You Can Use to Combat Opioid Abuse

  • Access Voluntary opioid prescribing guidelines:
    • For the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain (developed by PAMED and the state)
    • For the treatment of pain in the emergency department (developed by PAMED and PACEP)
    • For dental practice (developed by the state and the Pennsylvania Dental Association)
  • Have a conversation with your chronic pain patients using PAMED’s Opioid Prescription Checklist that can help facilitate the pain management discussion.
  • Get involved with grassroots advocacy and initiatives:
    • Have a discussion with the physicians in your county or region—A July 7 PAMED and Potter County Medical Society event—at which Scot Chadwick, PAMED’s legislative counsel, spoke—addressed the prescription drug crisis. Mr. Chadwick is available to talk to your county medical society about this important topic. If you are interested, email him at
  • Take advantage of PAMED education on opioids:
    • Complete PAMED’s six-part online course designed to educate physicians and other health care providers on the appropriate use of long-acting and extended-release opioids. Online courses are approved for CME.
    • Get patient safety and risk management CME with PAMED’s Managing Risk publication “Risks Associated with Chronic Pain Management”
  • Attend PAMED’s Annual Education Conference this Oct. 23 – 24, which includes an Oct. 24 interactive course on tools Pennsylvania physicians can use to address the opioid abuse crisis in Pennsylvania. Physicians can learn more about prescribing guidelines, the naloxone law, and share views on addressing the crisis. **This session and all conference sessions are free to members.