Thursday, January 11, 2018

The grim numbers from the opioid war

Our front page today pretty much says it all.

The opioid war is getting worse. The numbers tell us that.

Now Gov. Tom Wolf is doing something that has never happened before in Philadelphia to attack the problem.

Yesterday the governor declared a state of emergency - something never done before to combat a health problem. That kind of action is usually reserved for weather emergencies or other natural disasters.

It's not hard to see why.

According to the most recent numbers from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Pennsylvania recorded 4,642 drug overdose deaths in 2016. That puts it in the grim position of fourth highest rate in the country. Of those the majority of them, 3,900 involved opioids.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that means Pennsylvania has the fourth-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation.

The news is equally grim here in Delaware County.

The county recorded at least 18 more opioid death in 2017 than the year before. According to date from the Delaware County Medical Examiner's Office, there were 247 drug-related deaths in the county in 2017. Of those, 219 were opioid-related. That compares to 2016 numbers that listed 227 drug-related deaths, with 201 opioid-related. And officials in the M.E.'s Office caution that there are still 47 cases from 2017 pending more tests.

To fight the problem, Gov. Wolf announced 13 specific initiatives as part of his declaration, which will be in effect for 90 days.

You can read them here.

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