Sen. Vogel Supports Methadone Treatment Reforms

Urges state action to increase accountability

Noting widespread abuse and inefficiencies in methadone treatment practices in Pennsylvania, Senator Elder Vogel Jr. (R-47) is pressing for action on a series of reform bills unveiled today.

Senator Vogel joined colleagues at a press conference held at the State Capitol Building today to strongly advocate a package of bills known as the Methadone Accountability Package.

“I support these bills for a number of reasons, but I am particularly disturbed that some clients enrolled in these treatment programs are scamming state taxpayers by filing for bogus mileage reimbursements. It has come to light that some groups of clients carpool together and then file individual claims for mileage,” Senator Vogel said. “This shows that there needs to be greater monitoring and stricter enforcement to end this scamming once and for all.”

The measures making up the Methadone Accountability Package address the illegal diversion of methadone from treatment uses; methadone use and highway safety; and accountability in government-sponsored treatment, including cost to taxpayers, open-ended treatment, overdoses and deaths.

  • Senate Bill 1293 — Requires reviews for all methadone-related deaths, and development of best practices to prevent future deaths.
  • Senate Bill 1294 — Creates the Methadone Addiction Prevention and Treatment Act, to provide for the safe use of methadone to treat heroin and other opiate addictions.
  • Senate Bill 1376 — Implements diversion control and dosing standards.
  • Senate Bill 1377 — Establishes clinic standards to prevent methadone-related highway accidents.
  • Senate Bill 1378 — Makes it a crime to drive under the influence of more than the prescribed dose of methadone.
  • Senate Bill 1382 — Requires a narcotic treatment plan with a one-year limit with an additional six months if progressing toward a full recovery.
  • Senate Bill 1383 — Requires individuals to receive methadone treatment at a clinic closest to their residence.
  • Senate Resolution 348 — Directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to complete a performance audit of the state’s methadone treatment and transportation program.

“Narcotic abuse destroys individuals, families and communities, but I don’t believe treatment programs should simply replace one addiction without a goal of recovery,” Senator Vogel said. “These programs should have a clear game plan and a defined timeline that will wean clients away from drugs and help them to lead a normal, drug-free life.”

The National Drug Intelligence Center reported a 109 percent increase in the unlawful diversion of methadone from 2003 to 2007. The National Center for Health Statistics found that, from 1999-2005, the number of poisoning deaths involving methadone increased 468 percent, and the rate of methadone deaths in younger individuals (age 15 to 24) increased eleven-fold.

The increase in methadone use and abuse has also affected highway safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that a single dose can cause reductions in reaction time, visual acuity and information processing.

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