Drug overdose deaths decrease in PA by 1.7%

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health released their preliminary 2019 drug-related drug overdose death data, revealing a 1.7% decrease across the state in comparison to 2018, with 4,348 deaths in the state.

The data shows over a 19% decrease since 2017, when the Opioid Command Center was established. Final numbers will be released in the coming months, according to the DOH.

The DOH said that there are still 62 death records for 2019 where the county coroner or medical examiner has reported neither the cause of death nor toxicology information to the department. These cases being amended may increase the number of drug-related overdose deaths in 2019.

The report also includes data from EMS naloxone (Narcan) administration, which displayed that August was the the month with the highest rate of administration by EMS per 10,000 population. August was also the month with the highest emergency department visits per 10,000 population.

August and December were the months with the highest opioid-related deaths per 10,000 population.

During our tenure, the Wolf Administration has worked to strengthen our entire drug and alcohol system to support people suffering with substance use disorder by distributing millions of dollars of federal funding to county and local entities, made naloxone widely available to all Pennsylvanians, and increased access to medication assisted treatment throughout the commonwealth. However, our work is not done. As we battle an epidemic in the midst of pandemic it is important for people to know that drug and alcohol treatment providers are still operating, and help is available.

Jen Smith, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary

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