Governor Tom Wolf Signs Fentanyl Test Strips Legislation To Reduce Overdose Deaths in Pennsylvania
Vital Strategies Applauds Expansion of Harm Reduction To Save Lives
Harrisburg—Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf held a ceremonial signing today for a new law (Act 111) that legalizes the use of fentanyl test strips and other forms of drug checking to prevent overdose deaths. The legislation passed the PA House and Senate unanimously before going to the governor’s desk.
Pennsylvania, like the rest of the nation, has been working hard to address the escalating overdose crisis. The most recent data show Pennsylvania had the third highest number of overdose deaths of any state in the country for the 12-month period ending May 2022. The rate of death has risen most rapidly for Black residents in Pennsylvania in recent years. These increases in deaths are largely attributed to the challenges of the Covid pandemic and the proliferation of fentanyl in the unregulated drug supply. Fentanyl test strips allow people who use drugs to easily test the drugs for the presence of fentanyl.
Statement from Tracy Pugh, States Director of the Overdose Prevention Program at Vital Strategies
“It is encouraging to see this bipartisan support for expanding lifesaving harm reduction services in Pennsylvania. The Wolf administration has made harm reduction a priority. The unanimous support for fentanyl test strips in the legislature is a welcome sign of the growing momentum in support of harm reduction as a tool to address the overdose epidemic.
“In approving the new law, the Wolf administration also called for the legalization of syringe services programs across the state. Thirty years’ worth of research show that syringe services programs save lives, save money and act as a bridge to drug treatment and other services. Individuals who participate in syringe services programs are five times more likely to enter drug treatment than those who do not. Vital Strategies echoes the Wolf administration’s call for expanding harm reduction services in Pennsylvania. We must use every tool in our public health toolbox to save lives and connect people with help and services.”
About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. In November 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a five-year, $120 million investment to help combat the overdose crisis in the hard-hit states of Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The initiative builds on work of the previous three years in Michigan and Pennsylvania, launched in 2018 with $50 million, and expands the work to promote improved federal policies. The partnership between Vital Strategies, Pew Charitable Trusts, Johns Hopkins University, CDC Foundation and Global Health Advocacy Incubator is helping to strengthen and scale up evidence-based, data-driven policies and interventions to reduce overdose risks and save lives.
To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.
For Immediate Release