Check out what this Allegheny County judge is ordering drug dealers to do

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An Allegheny County judge has begun fining drug dealers to buy the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone, for agencies working in the communities where they’ve sold drugs.

Judge Anthony Mariani ordered fines — one for $2,650 and another for $1,250 — in two recent cases, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The larger fine will direct naloxone to three agencies in the Mon Valley and the $1,250 fine will buy kits for Ross/West View EMS.

The fine was calculated by adding $50 for each brick of heroin that each convicted dealer was intending to distribute.

Through police officers alone, naloxone has been reported to have reversed more than 1,000 overdoses in Pennsylvania since April 2015. There may have been additional reversals that were not reported in this statewide figure.

In May, PublicSource wrote that some police departments were slowly embracing naloxone. There are standing orders in Pennsylvania and Allegheny County for anyone to obtain the drug from a pharmacy.

Former Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill in 2014 that lowered the barriers to obtaining naloxone.

This week, the Pennsylvania boards of pharmacy and medicine both approved new prescribing guidelines for opioid painkiller medication, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The guidelines are aimed at limiting the number of pills that are prescribed for acute or chronic pain, and it is now recommended that they not be used as the first treatment option.

From the guidelines:

Patients with chronic pain not associated with cancer, if prescribed opioids, can be ordered to undergo periodic urine or saliva screenings and pill counts, in an effort to ensure that they aren’t taking extra drugs or selling their medicine.

The Post-Gazette notes that Pennsylvania has lagged behind other states in dealing with the opioid epidemic, such as Kentucky, which implemented similar guidelines in 2012.

A database to monitor prescription drug abuse in the state went live in late June.

Reach Eric Holmberg at 412-515-0064 or at eholmberg@publicsource.org. Follow him on Twitter @holmberges.