Pa. governor signs disaster emergency in opioid crisis

Pennsylvania suffered more than 4,600 fatal drug overdoses in 2016

Hydrocodone
FILE - This Feb. 19, 2013 file photo shows hydrocodone-acetaminophen pills, also known as Vicodin, arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has declared Pennsylvania’s opioid addiction epidemic a public health emergency and ordered a command center set up to treat the crisis like it would a natural disaster.

Wolf signed the order Wednesday. His office says seven other states have taken similar actions to address the problem.

A command center is to be set up at the state’s emergency management headquarters in Harrisburg. Wolf’s office says the move provides wider access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and makes it easier for medical professionals to get people into treatment more quickly.

It also will let emergency responders dispense the overdose antidote naloxone when responding to a call for help.

“We will expand access to medication-assisted treatment for satellite narcotic treatment programs. It will waive annual licensing requirements for high performing drug and alcohol treatment facilities,” Wolf said.

Pennsylvania suffered more than 4,600 fatal drug overdoses in 2016, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The state’s rate of drug overdoses is more than twice the national average.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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