Published On: Thu, Jun 8th, 2017

DEA Says There Were 4,642 Drug Overdose Deaths in Pennsylvania in 2016

There were 4,642 drug-related overdose deaths reported by coroners and medical examiners in Pennsylvania for 2016, according to an announcement Thursday by Gary Tuggle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division. The figure represents a 37% increase in overdose deaths from 2015, and establishes a death rate for 36.5 per 100,000 people, according to the DEA.

In 2016, approximately 13 people died of a drug-related overdose each day. The DEA will release its “Analysis of Drug-Related Overdose Deaths in Pennsylvania 2016” report later this month, it says.  This year’s report was prepared with the assistance of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy, Program Evaluation Research Unit, Technical Assistance Center.

A summary of key findings from the 2016 report by the DEA indicates the presence of a prescription or illicit opioid was identified in 85% of the overdose deaths, according to the DEA. Fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances were the most frequently identified (52% of deaths), exceeding heroin (45 % of deaths) for the first time.

Younger Pennsylvanians were effected “significantly,” the DEA said. Individuals aged 15-24 had a 380% increase in their odds of a fentanyl-related death than other age groups, while individuals aged 25-34 had a 970% increase in their odds of dying of a heroin-related overdose when compared to other age groups, according to DEA figures.

“The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is in the midst of an unprecedented epidemic of drug abuse and drug-related overdose deaths that impacts every corner of the state and all of its residents,” said Tuggle. “The collection, analysis, and dissemination of this data contributes to a robust information sharing environment among the fields of law enforcement, public health, treatment, and public policy, all of whom are working together to address the drug crisis in Pennsylvania.”

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