Published On: Thu, Jul 27th, 2017

DEA Says Most Pennsylvania Drug Overdose Deaths Last Year Involved Fentanyl

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division announced the release of its Analysis of Overdose Deaths in Pennsylvania 2016 report Thursday, and key findings from the report indicate that fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances were the most frequently identified in deaths (52%), a significant increase from 2015 when those chemicals were noted in 27% of deaths.

More than 95% of counties reporting drug-related overdose deaths in 2016 indicated the presence of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances.

In 2016, 4,642 drug-related overdose deaths were reported by Pennsylvania coroners and medical examiners, according to the DEA report, an increase of 37% from 2015.  In 2016, approximately 13 people died of a drug-related overdose in Pennsylvania each day.

The Pennsylvania drug-related overdose death rate in 2016 was 36.5 per 100,000 people, an increase from 26.7 per 100,000 in 2015.  The national drug overdose death rate in 2015 was 16.3 per 100,000.  The presence of a prescription or illicit opioid was identified in 85% of the overdose deaths.

The 2016 report was prepared in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy Program Evaluation Research Unit (PERU) and Technical Assistance Center and provides expanded public health data collection and analysis than the previous reports for 2014 and 2015.

“In 2016, more than 4,600 Pennsylvanians died as a result of drug abuse, with thousands more affected by addiction, either personally, or through family, friends, and loved ones,” said Gary Tuggle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division.

“The expertise of PERU in the analysis and interpretation of public health data, which is outside of the traditional scope of law enforcement intelligence analysis, resulted in the creation of this comprehensive report that can be used to implement effective strategies to address the overdose crisis,” he added.

“Looking at overdose data from counties across the state, we see the devastating effects opioids have on the people of Pennsylvania. Through PERU’s partnerships with the DEA and other community organizations, we are working to do more than analyze numbers,” said PERU Director Dr. Janice L. Pringle. “We strive to provide counties with accurate information and tangible resources that can be implemented to prevent this epidemic from progressing any further.”

The full report is available online.

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