In our nation's opioid epidemic, Pa. could find a fix using medical marijuana

In our nation’s opioid epidemic, Pa. could find a fix using medical marijuana

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Pennsylvania saw the second-highest drop nationally in the number of opioid prescriptions in 2017, according to the American Medical Association. It also is now on its way to leading the country in medical marijuana research. And while there are still many unknowns regarding medical marijuana, some local doctors are excited about its potential to help reduce the need to prescribe opioids and even treat addiction. "It’s a new horizon," said Dr. Susan Peck, an OB-GYN at Hanover Hospital. "There was a lack of literature before, but now we know that opioids are addictive, so we have to explore new avenues of treatment." Opioid prescriptions have declined in the United States by 9 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to the most recent available data from the American Medical Association. Pennsylvania experienced an even steeper drop at 14 percent, ranking just behind New Hampshire. More: This closed-down diner in York County could become a medical marijuana dispensary More: Medical marijuana dispensary could open as early as August in West Manchester Township More: Updated list: Here are doctors who will be able to prescribe medical marijuana in Pa. And while she does treat those suffering with opioid addiction, Peck said there is still a need for these drugs when used correctly. The major drop in opioid prescriptions in Pennsylvania can largely be credited to a new Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, according to Dr. John Gallagher, chair of the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Opiod Task Force. Under this program, doctors must file patient information into a database to make sure there are no other existing prescriptions for this patient or history of "doctor shopping," Gallagher said. Treating the pain Peck spoke of chronic pain and the frustration that is often shared by both the physician and the patient when looking for the best […]

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