PA Chamber Calls On Local Chamber Partners to Urge the House to Pass S.B. 936

Legislation will help address opioid abuse among injured workers

As the General Assembly enters the last year of the 2017-18 Legislative Session, the opioid crisis impacting the state has taken center stage. This epidemic has touched every corner of the Commonwealth – impacting thousands of families; and has had a notable impact on workers injured on the job. In fact, in a recent 26-state study, Pennsylvania ranked second compared to other states for opioid use among injured workers. It has reached such a level that in early January, Gov. Tom Wolf officially declared the issue a statewide emergency.

With the opioid crisis gripping our state, the PA Chamber believes that it’s both reasonable and responsible to enact S.B. 936 – legislation that would help fight this epidemic as it relates to injured workers by implementing a prescription drug formulary for workers’ compensation, as a key part to the overall strategy in addressing the overuse and abuse of prescription drugs in the Commonwealth. Formularies offer a flexible approach that brings efficiency to patient treatment and addresses instances of over-prescribing.

And it’s not just the business community that supports this legislation as a key part of the solution in combating the opioid epidemic. Leading experts in the addiction treatment community and physicians with expertise in prescription drugs have all testified to the benefits this legislation would have on helping injured workers avoid the pitfalls of opioid abuse.

Additionally, the data shows that formularies have been effective in reducing opioid use among injured workers in other states. For example, in the three years after Ohio implemented its formulary, the number of opioid prescriptions declined by 38 percent and the number of workers’ compensation patients considered opioid dependent reduced by half.

Unfortunately, there’s opposition to this bill from those with a profit motive. A September Philadelphia Inquirer article exposed trial lawyers and doctors working together to prescribe expensive medications with questionable legitimacy and then directing their clients to pharmacies they jointly owned. According to the article: “The pharmacy then charges employers or their insurance companies for the workers’ pain medicine, sometimes at sky-high prices.” This scandal becomes even more disturbing when the article reveals that the same individuals are opposing this opioid-combating legislation.

Last December, prior to the legislature’s holiday break, 74 local chambers joined us in sending a letter to lawmakers in support of this bill. We recently cleared one hurdle when it was approved by the House Labor and Industry Committee. But there’s still another large hurdle in getting the bill through the House and to the governor’s desk. That’s why we are urging our local chamber partners to reach out to your local representatives today and urge them to support this important legislation that will build on the work that’s already been done and help injured workers avoid the pitfalls of the overprescribing of opioids. Addressing the state’s opioid epidemic should be a top priority for all of our elected officials.

Gene Barr
President and CEO
PA Chamber of Business and Industry


The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state’s largest broad-based business association, with its statewide membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of Business™.