Allowing Fentanyl Test Strips Advances in Pennsylvania Senate

by Anthony Hennen


Republican legislators in the General Assembly have embraced a harm-reduction approach to deal with drug overdose deaths.

The Senate Judiciary Committee last week advanced a House bill to legalize fentanyl test strips by removing them from the definition of “drug paraphernalia.” The strips can detect fentanyl in other drugs such as heroin, which can help users avoid accidental overdoses.

In June, the House unanimously passed the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, as The Center Square previously reported. It had its first consideration on Sept. 20 and will need to have three considerations in total before final passage.

“We’re an outlier in this space at this point and time,” Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, said during the committee hearing. The legislation “brings us into consistency with pretty much all the other states in the union.”

More than a dozen states still classify test strips as drug paraphernalia. In June, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro issued a report that called for the legalization of test strips, as The Center Square previously reported.

The move is meant to reduce overdose deaths, which reached more than 5,400 in Pennsylvania last year.

“This is something that other states are seeing as effective in reducing overdose deaths,” Struzzi said.

Pennsylvania has received millions of dollars in federal funding to treat drug addiction, but overdose deaths have surged without the number of people addicted to drugs growing. Instead, the rise of fentanyl has driven overdose deaths higher. While the rate at which overdose deaths have increased in Pennsylvania has slowed, it’s likely that the slower rate comes from more users dying, rather than treatment improving.

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Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.
Photo “Fentanyl” by r. nial bradshaw. CC BY 2.0.




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