From time to time we at the National Pain Report check in to see what different states are doing on the chronic pain issue. A couple of things out of Pennsylvania this week caught our eye.
First it looks like the Keystone State is going to make access to opioid painkiller prescriptions for adults even stricter. The State Senate voted on a number of bills—one of which imposes a seven-day limit on opioid prescriptions for all adults. In 2016 the state put similar limits on prescriptions for minors and emergency room patients.
The bill maintains exceptions for the judgement of the doctor—but chronic pain advocates are worried about the practical application of that given that many doctors are very aware of the scrutiny that comes with prescribing opioids.
Another story that caught our attention is that half of the medical marijuana/cannabis issued in the state are for severe or chronic pain.
WITF—an NPR station that serves the state’s capital city of Harrisburg—filed a right to know request with the Pennsylvania State Department of Health.
Pennsylvania legalized medical cannabis in 2016 and has issued over 105,000 medical marijuana permits since then.
Post-traumatic stress disorder accounts for 14 percent of those permits, the second most-commonly requested qualifying medical condition.
Neuropathies - conditions that affect the nervous system - are the third most-common qualifying condition, making up about 9 percent of applicants. Cancer and remission therapy make up 8 percent of certifications.
Three percent of applications — 3,334 people — sought medical marijuana to treat opioid use disorder that hasn’t responded to “conventional therapeutic interventions,” or as a supplement to other therapies.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has been a hawk on the opioid issue—charging that three of four heroin users started by using prescription opioids. He is part of that bi-partisan coalition of Attorneys General that is targeting manufacturers.