Pennsylvania officials meet to share opioid strategies

Benzodiazepines are prescribed for a variety of conditions, including panic disorder and seizures.
Benzodiazepines are prescribed for a variety of conditions, including panic disorder and seizures. | File photo

Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine and Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick recently met to discuss prescribing guidelines for opioids and benzodiazepines, known as benzos, and the opioid epidemic.

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration's prescribing guidelines were also discussed at the meeting. The Wolf administration, Department of Health, and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs worked together to form the Safe and Effective Prescribing Practices Task Force. The task force developed and adopted a series of guidelines on using opioids to treat pain.

"The combination of opioid painkillers with a benzodiazepine medications, like Xanax or Valium, can be deadly," Levine said. "With Gov. Wolf's leadership, we are working with medical professionals to protect Pennsylvanians from the risk of overdose to save lives and make our communities safer. I thank Coroner Hetrick and his team for helping us spread this message."

Benzodiazepines are prescribed for a variety of conditions, including panic disorder and seizures. When patients combine benzodiazepines with prescription or illegal opioids, they have a greater risk of overdosing.

"As coroner, I see far too often the deadly and devastating effects of the opioid epidemic," Hetrick said. "The disease of addiction takes lives and destroys families. With compassion, team work and practicality, we aim to break the malicious grip addiction has on so many of our neighborhoods."

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Pennsylvania Department of Health 625 Forster St Harrisburg, PA - 17120