for Immediate Release
Corbett Addresses Opioid Issue
Effort to Coordinate State and Local Response
Pittsburgh – Governor Tom
Corbett today convened a group of local and state health, law enforcement,
legislative and judicial officials along with individuals impacted by addiction
to discuss the response to Pennsylvania’s growing opioid addiction and overdose
can be found in many prescription drugs as well as illegal drugs such as
heroin. Between 2009 and 2013, nearly 3,000 heroin-related
overdose deaths were identified by county coroners in Pennsylvania.
seen a concerning correlation between opioid prescription drug abuse and heroin
use,” Corbett said.
a former prosecutor, I’ve seen too many lives ruined because of addiction,”
Corbett continued. “This is a problem that cuts across geographic, social and
economic boundaries. It affects families from rural areas, to suburban areas,
to our cities. And it is doing so at an increasingly alarming rate.”
governor’s plan is aimed at raising awareness about Pennsylvania’s growing
opioid problem and discussing how healthcare, law enforcement and community
groups can increase collaboration to stop the cycle of addiction and stem the
growing opioid overdose problem statewide.
need to educate our citizens, coordinate the enforcement of our laws and engage
our communities to address this issue,” Corbett said.
announced he is directing Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP)
Secretary Gary Tennis to lead a working group of government officials to
coordinate efforts at the state and local levels and will hold a series of
panel discussions around the state to hear from various impacted communities
working group is another step in the measures already underway through the
governor’s Healthy Pennsylvania plan.
to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately
82 percent of individuals trying heroin for the first time admit to having
previously used prescription pain drugs. Often, prescription drug abuse starts
with access to unused prescription drugs in home medicine cabinets.
governor’s Healthy Pennsylvania Prescription Drug Take-Back Program,
through a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and
the Staunton Farms Foundation, provided 176 boxes in 33 counties statewide.
More than 3,500 pounds of prescription drugs have been collected through the
boxes in the first quarter of this year.
governor also applauded the Pennsylvania Senate for its action this week on
Senate Bill 1180 (Vance, R-Cumberland) which brings the Healthy Pennsylvania
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program one step closer to his desk for signing.
event today not only focused on further community and physician education, but
also on increasing collaboration among law enforcement entities.
State Police troopers seized over $16 million in heroin, crystal meth and other
prohibited drugs in the first quarter of 2014, while the amount of heroin
seized at the southwest border of the United States rose 232 percent from 2008
to 2012, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
heroin has been laced with other potent drugs, including the synthetic opiate
Fentanyl, a mixture that is almost always lethal.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, death from drug overdose is now the leading cause of injury-related
death in the U.S., surpassing motor vehicle crashes,” Corbett said.
event concluded with a discussion around current efforts to engage local
communities, advance evidence-based prevention and treatment activities and
better coordinate a response at the statewide level.
General Dr. Carrie DeLone and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP)
Secretary Gary Tennis also co-chair another initiative with a group of medical
professionals, associations and regulatory agencies that is currently
finalizing and will look to promote guidelines that will establish the best and
safest prescribing and pain management practices.
the direction of the governor, DDAP Secretary Tennis convened an Overdose Rapid
Response Task Force in July 2013 to improve communication about drug trends
between emergency healthcare providers, law enforcement and drug treatment
together, I believe we can better address this problem, but it will take
engagement and coordination on all levels – from the state, to the legislature,
to our local communities, to activities we take inside our own homes,” Corbett
governor applauded Representative Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) for the creation of
a legislative task force.
was joined by Senator Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland); Allegheny County Executive
Rich Fitzgerald; Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association President and
Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed; families impacted by opioid
addiction and overdoses; and members of the medical and law enforcement
Christine Cronkright, 717-783-1116