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Pa. Rep. Introduces Bill To Close Loophole In Fight Against Opioid Epidemic

HARRISBURG (KDKA) -- Gov. Tom Wolf has said that fighting the state's heroin and opioid epidemic is a top priority for his administration.

Now, a local Republican representative is focused on closing a major loophole to keep the drugs off the streets.

State Rep. Tedd Nesbit, of Mercer and Butler counties, is well aware of Pennsylvania's drug problem.

"Opioid overdoses have now overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death, and in glancing at the news stories and police reports over the last few weeks, this crisis isn't coming to an end any time soon," said Rep. Nesbit.

This week, the Republican lawmaker has proposed a simple measure he feels will make a difference.

"State law mandates prescriptions for opioids to be written out by hand, and at one time, that was the best we could do, but that is no longer the case," Rep. Nesbit said.

That is why Rep. Nesbit introduced House Bill 353. It requires opioid prescriptions be transmitted electronically to a pharmacy. The way most all other drugs orders are handled.

"Once we started e-prescribing everything the last couple years, and then us also seeing this crisis, the two came together and we said this obviously is something we need to take care of," said Dr. Patrick Smith, of the Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society.

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Physicians joined Rep. Nesbit on the Capitol steps to show their support in ditching the prescription pads.

"Getting into the 21st century. We do everything else electronically, with the exception of this," said Dr. Paul Juliano, of Penn State Hershey Orthopaedics.

Gov. Wolf's proposed budget calls for millions to help fight the epidemic. Rep. Nesbit hopes his common sense approach makes an immediate impact.

"Because it is something so simple, hopefully, we can put partisan politics aside and get something passed and to move us a step forward," Rep. Nesbit said.

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