April 26, 2019
The number of drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania is expected to have declined in 2018, marking the first year-over-year drop in half a decade.
Final tallies aren’t official, but preliminary data from the state suggests the number will end up being lower than the 5,559 people who died from drug overdose deaths in 2017, per the Morning Call.
Multiple state officials told the Morning Call the signs are positive, but it’s certainly not time to start celebrating victory against the opioid crisis. Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine said she is “cautiously optimistic” the trend is starting to reverse.
The current number of drug overdose deaths recorded in 2018, according to the state’s opioid database, stands at 4,267. The number is still preliminary, an official with the opioid task force told the Morning Call, as the state waits for toxicology reports and more information.
In Philadelphia, according to the database, the number of drug overdose deaths in 2018 stands at 1,074, which would represent a decline from the 1,192 drug overdose deaths the city saw in 2017.
The preliminary data also suggests decreases in drug overdose deaths in Montgomery County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Bucks County.
Saturday, April 27, is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday he thinks the state’s focus on providing more options for the safe disposal of prescription drugs is working.
“By simplifying the process for disposing of unused medications following a death, we are taking another step toward taking dangerous medications out of the hands of anyone who might misuse them,” Wolf said in a release Friday. “Take-back boxes offer another option in preventing misuse of dangerous medications.
“While the take-back program has been, and will continue to be, incredibly successful, we all know that we must do more to rid our communities of the scourge of the opioid and heroin crisis. That’s why, from the beginning, my administration has taken proactive action to get in front of this crisis, and to give our communities the tools they need to fight back.”