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Medical report praises state’s opioid fight efforts

December 17, 2018

A new report lauded Pennsylvania’s efforts to curb opioid abuse, singling out its efforts that include prevention and harm reduction.

The findings were gathered by the American Medical Association in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Opioid overdoses were a major problem in the state in recent years. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reported that 5,456 people died from drug-related causes in 2017. Recently, Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller said that 14 people had died in the county in 2018 from drug overdoses. He attributed the issue to fentanyl.

“The problem with it is it is a lot stronger than heroin,” Miller said. “Things that are marketed as heroin is fentanyl. It’s mixed with other drugs like Bupropion. They’re trying to create substance that recreates the experience to sell it.

Miller said people would be surprised by how many illegal drugs are around them here and elsewhere.

“It’s amazing. I’m surprised there aren’t more deaths because this fentanyl is extremely dangerous,” he said. “These criminals are constantly engineering it. These drug dealers actually hire chemists to figure out how to make it more potent. You’ll never get the same product twice. That’s what happens.”

In January, Gov. Tom Wolf issued and has continued to renew a 90-day opioid disaster declaration and has mobilized an inter-agency task force to treat patients and reduce harm. There has been a 28 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions since 2013, but the loss of life has climbed. Pennsylvania’s death rate took a sharp increase from 2015 to 2017 despite the state’s actions.

The state has established 45 centers for excellence, which has helped provide medication-assisted treatment to addicts.

None of those centers are in Somerset County, but Cambria County has one at Alliance Medical Services in Johnstown.

State regulators have also pushed for alternative medications to deal with pain, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and behavioral health services.

The report also praised the commonwealth’s comprehensive naloxone access.

To read the full report, visit dailyamerican.com for the story.

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