A new way to think about opioids

Written by Radio Pennsylvania | Jan 7, 2017 8:25 AM

(Harrisburg) -- The number of opioid-related overdose deaths has been sharply rising over the last few years in Pennsylvania.  Now the state's top doctor is encouraging a new way of thinking about the drugs as officials try to curb the overdose crisis.

Pennsylvania's Physician General, Dr. Rachel Levine, uses the term "opioid stewardship" to refer to the measures implemented by the legislature and professional societies to try and head off addiction and reduce overdose deaths.

Dr. Levine says opioids are essential medicine in some cases, but they need to be used carefully.

"It parallels what physicians are doing with antibiotics, for instance. Antibiotics are essential medicines, but there has developed bacterial resistance to antibiotics so there are programs in hospitals to use antibiotics more carefully and judiciously," she said.

A state task force has released safe prescribing guidelines for opioids and other high risk drugs.

Dr. Levine says they will continue to examine best practices in the coming year. 


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