Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition (PAHRC) is excited to announce our newest partnership with Lois Sherman Hagarty—a 13-year veteran of the Pennsylvania Legislature and principal at State Street Advisors.
We are incredibly grateful that Lois has agreed to support our mission at PAHRC by taking us on as a pro bono client and support our work on expanding access to sterile syringes for people who use drugs. Working with her comes at a critical time for our organization and for the state of Pennsylvania. She will be an invaluable resource as we continue to advocate for much-needed changes that help improve the quality of life for people who use drugs, people in recovery, and their communities.
One of these much-needed changes include implementing Syringe Service Programs (SSPs) across Pennsylvania. SSPs, also referred to as needle exchange programs, syringe exchange programs, or syringe access programs, reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C, reduce overdose deaths, and increase entry into substance use treatment (people who interact with SSPs are five times more likely to enter treatment).
Although SSPs are an effective method and a key part of efforts in addressing the opioid epidemic, they are currently illegal in Pennsylvania. Under PA’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, syringes are defined as “drug paraphernalia”, which prevents the operation of SSPs.
Lois Hagarty brings in over 30 years of experience from her field and is a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives where she served for six consecutive terms. Her primary work in the legislature focused on judicial reform, family law, criminal justice, and economic development in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Since 2003, Hagarty has been a principal at State Street Advisors, a public policy consulting group based in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Lois currently specializes in healthcare and economic development. In her healthcare practice, she has worked with clients in areas such as managed care, behavioral health and substance use, pharmaceutical services, and services to individuals with intellectual disabilities.
As we push for legislation around SSPs statewide, we are hopeful that with Lois’s support and valuable insider approach, she will help to develop bipartisan support and navigate the process of removing current legislative barriers.