By Angelarosa DiDonato
Published June 14, 2021 in the Bucks Courier Times
While the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated headlines across the globe, another public health crisis has been running in the background unabated. Each day, 150 Americans die from a drug overdose. From September 2019 to September 2020, more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians died from a drug overdose, a 22% increase from the previous year. Three-quarters of these deaths are attributed to opioids.
The opioid epidemic has had a devastating impact on Pennsylvania communities and, much like COVID-19, must be addressed from a variety of approaches. One essential step in reducing the human toll of the opioid epidemic is stopping addiction before it begins. For many, addiction begins with a prescription opioid after injury or surgery. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1, recently reintroduced legislation in Congress that would make non-opioid pain control options more accessible to patients.
The Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (“NOPAIN”) Act would increase access to safe, innovative, non-opioid pain management options. The NOPAIN Act, a bipartisan effort, would update reimbursement protocols that currently incentivize opioid use. With this legislation, health professionals will be better equipped to tailor treatment options to each patient’s individual needs, which could prevent millions of Americans from going on to long-term opioid use after a surgery.
I applaud Rep. Fitzpatrick for introducing this legislation and urge other members from the PA Congressional delegation, including Senators Toomey and Casey, to join him in supporting the NOPAIN Act. By introducing this legislation, Rep. Fitzpatrick is clearing the way to give health professionals access to more tools to manage their patients’ pain.
Angelarosa DiDonato is immediate past president of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists.