- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed five new laws Wednesday to address the state’s opioid addiction and abuse problem, including limits on how much can be prescribed in an emergency room or issued to children .

The Democratic governor signed the elements of a legislative package that include a mandate that doctors check the state’s prescription drug monitoring database when they prescribe opioids, not just for first-time patients.

Other measures establish safe opioid prescribing training in medical schools and are intended to improve safe disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals .

“Please, for the sake of your children and your grandchildren, if you have prescription medicine that you’re not using, get rid of it,” said Sen. John Wozniak, D-Cambria, who spoke at the bill signing ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda.

Wolf said repeatedly there was more work to be done to solve what he called a scourge and a plague.

“This is just a start, let’s keep working on it,” said Wolf, who said he supports a shift away from stigmatizing drug addiction and toward treating it as a disease.

Opioid prescriptions in emergency rooms and for children would be limited to a seven-day supply.

Medical students will be learning, among other things, alternatives to opioids and how to identify patients at risk of becoming addicted.

The state also is allowing all law enforcement stations, hospitals, nursing homes and licensed pharmacies to become drop-off sites for expired or unneeded prescription drugs or over-the-counter pharmaceutical products.

Officials attribute about 3,500 deaths in Pennsylvania last year to addiction.

The bills will go into effect in the coming months.

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