Harrisburg — November 1, 2022 — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives recently passed Senate Bill 317, sponsored by Sens. Patrick Browne (R-Lehigh), Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), Judy Schwank (D-Berks), and Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) by a vote of 173 to 26.
Senate Bill 317 grants health care practitioners and pharmacists the authority to prescribe sexually transmitted infections antibiotics without having examined the patient in accordance with the Expedited Partner Therapy in the Management of Sexually Transmitted Diseases guidance document issued by the CDC. This means a health care practitioner or pharmacist can prescribe treatment for an individual experiencing STI symptoms and their partner without examining the partner first.
In 2021, there were 2.5 million reported cases of STDs according to the CDC. These diseases can cause significant health issues and are widely preventable when individuals have access to the required treatment.
“We’ve seen STIs increase in the commonwealth and elsewhere in the country,” Schwank said. “Modern medicine has given us the tools we need to combat STIs, and I believe this legislation ensures more Pennsylvanians have access to the treatments they need to overcome these diseases and live healthy, productive lives.”
The bill was first introduced by the bipartisan group of lawmakers in 2017. Schwank said she’s pleased to see the bill finally get over the finish line.
“It goes to show you that when pragmatic lawmakers work together, we can get things done, even if it takes longer than we’d like it to.”
AccessMatters, a non-profit organization located in Philadelphia, was one of the many public health groups that advocated for Senate Bill 317’s passage.
“AccessMatters applauds the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Gov. Wolf for the recent passage of Senate Bill 317, the Expedited Partner Therapy Act,” said Melissa Weiler Gerber, President & CEO of AccessMatters. “Senate Bill 317 will help reduce barriers and increase access to expedited partner therapy, an evidence-based, cost-effective method of reducing community spread of STIs by removing barriers to care. Pennsylvania has high STI rates, and this legislation is an important step forward to reduce transmission and help mitigate serious health concerns through increased access to care.”
The bill now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.